City Council votes to unfreeze lieutenant position at Colusa Police Department

The Colusa City Council last week voted 4-1 to unfreeze a lieutenant position at the Colusa Police Department, paving the way for Colusa Police Chief Josh Fitch to promote Senior Sgt. Eldon Tamez to the administrative position.

The council had continued the item from their last meeting in May, when they asked that it be brought back for consideration after a special budget meeting.

City Councilman Dave Womble asked Fitch whether – in light of the anticipated $434,000 budget shortfall discussed at the budget meeting earlier in the afternoon – he still wanted to move forward with his request that the council unfreeze the position.
Fitch said that he did.

“I’ve got to balance fiscal responsibility to my responsibility to my guys that have been there a long time… and to reward them for their loyalty and hard work,” Fitch explained. “I think the fact we’re able to do that at this point with an actual cost savings, at least for the next couple years, I still feel comfortable with that decision.”

At the prior council meeting, Fitch indicated that there would be some cost savings in the short-term, as the lieutenant position is exempt from overtime pay. By promoting Tamez to lieutenant, the city will actually save money in the first year, break about even in the second year, and would realize an small increase in expenses by the third year, he said.

Councilmen Dave Markss and Greg Ponciano said that they were hesitant to move forward with unfreezing the position strictly from a financial standpoint, given the outlook for the city’s budget in Fiscal Year 2018-19. Both had previously expressed concerns over increased retirement and post-employment benefit costs associated with unfreezing the position.

Despite the concerns from Markss and Ponciano, Tom Reische made the motion to reinstate the lieutenant position, saying that both Fitch and Tamez deserved it. The motion carried 4-1, with Markss voting “no.”

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net