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Ex-Chief: Spend party money on community
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LATHROP – The $3,500 that would have been spent to cater a recognition dinner for former Police Chief Dolores Delgado may instead benefit a number of community programs at her request.

After she turned down the City Council’s plan to have a catered dinner in her honor at the Manteca Community Center, Delgado suggested that the money be used to fund programs that she heavily supported and advocated during her tenure at the police department. The proposed programs are the following:

•Citizen Police Academy, a program offered once a year for residents to learn about community policing and how the police department works to maintain law and order for Lathrop citizens. This program is intended to be self-supporting with residents enrolled in the class paying participation fees. The annual cost for the program is approximately $500.

•Junior Police Academy, the junior version of the Citizen’s Police Academy. Funding is done in the same manner with participants paying an enrollment fee which covers their materials and other related items needed in the class. The annual cost for this junior academy is $1,000.

•File of Life, another voluntary program aimed at helping local responders get immediate information about an individual’s medical condition which could save that person’s life. This could involve a File of Life refrigerator magnet with a plastic pocket labeled File of Life containing one’s medical history, emergency contact information, and other life-saving things that a first responder needs to know. Estimated annual cost for this program: $350.

•10 Minutes Without TV. This was added to the list during the council discussion Monday night. However, no detailed information on how the program works was not available. Mayor Kristy Sayles said she has some idea about the program but she volunteered to get the necessary information and bring it back to council at the March 14 council meeting for further deliberation and final vote. The rest of the council agreed to table the agenda item and to make a decision on how to use the $3,500 by that time.

If the council decided not to spend the money for the above programs, the funds go back to the city manager’s contingency account in keeping with the language of the resolution approved by the council when it voted for Delgado’s recognition dinner.

The council’s plan to honor Delgado drew plenty of harsh criticism from residents who considered the expense frivolous given the city’s budget woes. The city is anticipating an annual budget deficit of $2.5 million for the next five years, starting with the current 2009-10. Layoffs (17 positions in all, five of which were budgeted but not filled), cutting three positions in the police department by returning three deputies to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office which is under contract to provide police services to Lathrop, Friday furloughs and 10 percent across the board salary cuts for all city  employees, cutting back city staff travels, and minimizing training classes were among the cost-cutting measures instituted to trim the current fiscal year’s budget deficit.