Council hears report from Fire Chief Roeper regarding arson investigations

Posted May 9, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Albany City Council held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday evening with all members present, discussing budget issues and other items of business.

The council first recognized Albany Fire Chief Robert Roeper, pertaining to an issue about State Police Arson Investigators retiring from their positions without those positions being filled by someone else, which apparently would create a shortage of police to investigate suspect fires.

Roeper told the council that the state had several employees who were retiring, including arson investigators, and their positions would likely not all be filled.

Among those leaving is Alex Wesley, arson investigator for the Post 15 area that includes Clinton County.

The fire chief said that according to law, firemen have to remain on the scene of a “suspicious” fire until an investigator arrives, or someone is on scene to investigate the cause of a fire.

Roeper said a total of eight fire marshals in the state were resigning.

Roeper noted he had the training to investigate fires of suspicious origin, but needed assistance in those situations to keep firemen from having to stay long periods of time at a fire scene, and said the department needed some financial help with training someone to help investigate fire scenes.

Mayor Nicky Smith told Roeper he would gather more information on the matter and get back with him on the issue.

The council then held second and final reading of a budget amendment including $159,136 in the budget, mostly from grant funds, for the police vehicle project and heard yet another update on the new water billing system from water department employee Pam Allred.

Most of the software is in place and she noted the department was ready for the next steps that will eventually give customers the option of paying their bills by debit card or online.

Council members were then given a copy of the proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget to be reviewed prior to first reading being held next month.

The budget of just under $4.1 million is about $76,000 above the current year’s budget total.

Brooks Ferguson with the street department also told the council that street and pothole repairs in the city would begin in a couple of weeks.

Councilwoman Tonya Thrasher also made note of the food pantry that will soon be available at the police department building and a separate article on that will appear in a later issue.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for June 5.