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Top cop's rehiring to save $110,447 a year

Shelgren will receive no benefits
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Retaining Paul Shelgren as Lincoln?s interim police chief will save the city $110,447 a year, according to the city?s human resources analyst. That?s the yearly cost savings from having Shelgren as the interim chief ?rather than hiring a new chief of police,? said human resources analyst Sheila Van Zandt. During the April 24 City Council meeting, council voted to have Shelgren stay on with the city as a retired annuitant. He retired Tuesday. That means Shelgren can only work 960 hours per year and he will be ?working at the lowest pay step without any benefits,? City Manager Jim Estep said Tuesday. The cost of a new police chief with benefits and at the lowest pay step is $86,391 a year. Shelgren will earn $62,335 as interim police chief. Shelgren said his salary was ?dropped? by $15 an hour. His first day as a retired employee was Wednesday. The 960 hours a year that Shelgren can work ?is a CalPERS limitation,? according to Estep. ?I?m perfectly willing and will continue on until the city decides what they want to do for the next chapter,? Shelgren said Monday. ?The city needs help. There?s nobody that we could put in that position and the city isn?t in the position to hire a full-time chief.? A love for the job is another reason the police chief cited for ?sticking around.? ?The reason I?m doing it is because I love my job and what I do,? Shelgren, 50, said. ?It?s not a burden. I?m doing what I like doing and get to keep doing what I love to do.? Shelgren said the city is looking for ?that person who could give a five-year commitment here? and also someone who will ?help build the department back to where it should be? when the city?s budget and the economy permits. ?I think ideally we need to get back to 28 sworn officers so we can do everything we need to do,? Shelgren said. Currently, the police department has 20 sworn officers. That includes increasing and retaining detective activity, putting a ?traffic officer on the street,? and ?putting our youth services program back into effect,? Shelgren said. When asked by The News Messenger if it would mean increased gang enforcement, Shelgren said those three examples ?are part of proactive activity.? The News Messenger asked Estep when the city will start looking for a full-time police chief. ?I don?t foresee looking for a permanent full-time police chief until we have stabilized the budget and know where the City Council feels we should go in respect to the (fiscal sustainability committee) recommendations regarding public safety,? Estep said. Mayor Spencer Short said there would be savings because Shelgren is ?already experienced and knows the community.? ?He?s served the community well for many years,? Short said. ?His assistance to the younger officers and managing the department during difficult times, I cannot say enough about his service to the community.?