Medford Police and Fire proposing fee increase to help staffing issues

MEDFORD, Ore.– Medford’s Police and Fire Departments are asking the city to boost their budgets, which could mean an increase to your bottom line.

The two agencies will present new strategic plans to the city council next week.

They include a requested increase to the public safety utility fee.

The public safety utility fee that Medford residents pay is currently $9.42 per month.

Both chiefs said in order to hire additional staff, they need more funding.

Fire Chief Eric Thompson said, “we’re doing this for the betterment of the community.”

Both Police Chief Justin Ivens and Fire Chief Thompson are looking to improve the level of service their agencies provide.

They said that conversation starts with increasing the number of staff for each department.

Chief Ivens said, “when you have to start cutting from other areas say your detectives division or your school resource program or whatever it may be in order to meet minimum staffing levels at patrol, you really start running into morale issues with your staff.”

Chief Thompson said, “it’s staffing for the fire engines, it’s staffing for medical squads and it’s staffing for community risk officers.”

Chiefs Ivens and Thompson are confident that if the city council votes to accept their recommendations this month, the community will see tangible benefits.

Ivens is looking to expand MPD’s livability team and Thompson said the proposal will allow the fire department to decrease wait times.

Thompson said, “they’re going to notice ems squads on the street, they’ll see a greater availability of their fire resources, they’re going to see more flexibility in our fire staffing.”

Ivens said, “with additional staffing, what that will allow us to do is have a little bit more time to be proactive when it comes to investigating crimes, versus being reactive all the time.”

But their plans will come at an increased cost to Medford residents.

Each proposal includes an increase in the public safety utility fee, which is currently $9.42.

The fee was raised  from $7.42 in 2019 to fund five positions for the livability team.

The city said if both proposed plans are approved, residents could see their monthly fee go up as high as nearly $2 a month.

Though the council could make changes to the plans.

The chiefs understand increases may not be popular, but they feel it’s necessary.

Ivens said, “there was a year long process and a lot of hard work that went into this.”

Thompson said, “the goal is that we wanted to be able to continue to provide professional and excellent service to our community.”

Medford Fire and Police will present their plans to the city council at the city council’s study session, on December 8th.

The council will vote on the proposals on the 15th.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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