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Public safety set for bump in city budget

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Posted at 8:27 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 21:37:24-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The City of Corpus Christi is close to approving its budget for the next fiscal year.

Once again, the total budget is over $1 billion, and a big chunk of that is going towards public safety like police and fire.

Both Police Chief Mike Markle and Fire Chief Robert Rocha are very happy with the proposed budget. They understand the city can't simply hand them blank checks for everything they want. Both however, are getting a lot of what they want including more bodies, new equipment, and upgraded facilities.

“It’s a win-win for the community,” said Rocha.

Roughly 16 percent of Corpus Christi's FY-22 budget is for the city's police officers and firefighters. More than $72 million for the Fire Department, and $91 million for the Police Department.

“It's a measured increase, it's a substantial investment in what you don't see; infrastructure,” said Markle.

There are plenty of upgrades the public won't see like dispatchers' computers and in-car data systems. There will however, be plenty the public will see.

“The residents are going to see newer fire trucks out there,” said Rocha. “They're going to see more firefighters.”

The fire department's ranks will swell from 414 to 422, the most ever employed by the city. The Police Department is growing as well after the council approved 10 additional field officers over attrition this year for a total 461.

“That's a huge number, bigger than we've ever been, and we're going to continue to add to that,” said Markle.

That's not all that's being added. For police, plans will move forward on a new academy, and work will finish on an updated Flour Bluff substation.

The fire department will get a new ambulance company added to Fire Station #17 on the Southside as well as a new and improved Fire Station 3 on Morgan Ave.

“It is very positive news,” said Corpus Christi Police Officers’ Association President Scott Leeton.

Leeton says officers he's spoken with are pleased with the budget. The only thing he knows officers want, that isn't in the budget, are more new police vehicles.

“Not that they're unsafe, sure there are probably a handful out there that have 120,000 miles on them,” said Leeton, who added that CCPD will in fact get more vehicles than usual next year.

Corpus Christi is a growing city, and both chiefs recognize the need to be flexible in order to grow their departments with the city.

“You have to have a plan in place,” said Rocha. “The city manager is not just going to give you people and equipment just because you say you want them.”

“There's a lot going on, I'm extremely happy to see this council and this city manager in this direction,” added Markle.

A first reading of the ordinance approving the budget is already on next Tuesday's council agenda.