McComb Police Chief Damian Gatlin brought more staffing issues to the city board’s attention at Tuesday’s work session.
In addition to four vacancies in the detective division, Gatlin said he has five full-time positions available in dispatch, for which people keep dropping out during training.
“I’ve had four people in here who were close to finishing their training, and they said they weren’t able to do the job,” Gatlin told board members. “It’s a waste of time and resources. It’s hard to find people to fill those positions.”
He said there are city employees in other positions who are already certified to be dispatchers, and he uses them sometimes to fill in, but he’s “killing overtime” when he does that.
He said he had an experienced, certified person he would like to hire on a part-time basis, and asked permission to call in other part-time personnel as needed until he has hires who complete training and can fill the open dispatching positions.
Gatlin also asked for freedom to hire more part-time officers for patrol duty.
Gatlin said some officers who work part-time for the department are not available at times due to the shifts they work for other departments, and he would like to bring in officers — from five to 10 — on an as-needed basis.
Mayor Quordiniah Lockley and City Administrator Dirkland Smith urged Gatlin to specify a number for consideration at Tuesday’s board meeting.
In another personnel matter, Recreation Director Joyce Smith asked selectmen to reinstate the deputy director position in her department.
“The department is growing, with the projects and facilities being added,” Smith said.
Construction will start next year on a new Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Burglund, and basketball courts, splash pads and other amenities are being added at all of the city’s parks.
The recreation director said she would like to promote from within, but the city administrator said the city would still advertise the position.
Planning Director Henry Green brought the board his comparisons of permit fees from area and similarly sized cities, including Brookhaven, Natchez and Grenada.
He said the fee increases he had proposed at the previous board meeting would bring an additional $19,000 in revenue.
Selectman Ted Tullos questioned the necessity of raising the fees.
“I understand the permits are not enforced well,” Tullos said. I would like to see permits enforced before I would vote for this.”
Green said there could be some homeowners or contractors who don’t buy permits, but “I know of very few who aren’t paying.”
In other business, the board discussed:
• The upcoming census.
• Transferring the firing range from the recreation department to the police department.
• “Going purple” and allowing a parade or block party for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
• Updating the fee structure and continuing payroll services provided by T.E. Lott and Co.
• An updated list of properties to be demolished, and a hearing date for owners of those properties.
• Receiving more quotes for the demolition of properties previously approved, as the company awarded the contract went out of business.
• Holding meetings with property owners and residents in a proposed entertainment district.
• Payments on storm cleanup and water projects.
• Acceptance of a contract with M3A Architecture of Jackson to design the MLK Rec Center.
• Holding an executive session to discuss the city’s litigation against the Sunny Hill Water Association.