St. John city council members debated hiring another officer to fill vacant spot in police department at Tuesday's meeting.

St. John city council members recently appointed Sgt. Adam Sayler to the position of police chief, but debate over the department still rages on.

At Tuesday’s meeting Sayler asked council members if he could hire another officer to fill the position left vacant when Sonny Ralston retired and he took over the duties of chief.

The force has had four officers for the past several years dropping to three when Ralston retired and the council spent a nearly a year naming his replacement. The three officers have currently filled the vacant position by splitting overtime between the three.

“It looks to me like it is cheaper to run a three-man crew than a four-man crew by looking at the total dollars,” said council member Troy Hanson.

A cost evaluation showed the amount of overtime paid when the department had three officers versus four that it had in the past. There was some overtime during the four-man crew times, but not as much as during the period with only three officers. However as Hanson pointed out, even with the

overtime it did not add up to what it would cost to employ an additional person.

“With a force we are basically working them overtime and running them ragged,” said council member Amy Collins. “Part of our responsibility as a city is to be a good employer too.”

Council member Kevin Davis suggested staying with the three-man force and cutting the officers patrol time during daylight hours. Collins and council member Mark Bryant stated less coverage was not what they were hearing from citizens that had discussed the matter with them.

Officer Aaron Rudy, who was promoted to the position of sergeant during an earlier vote made a passionate plea to the members telling them the work schedule doesn’t allow them to schedule time off very well since they are handling an extra workload.

Chief Sayler stated that when one of his officers is off for the mandatory training they do as law enforcement officers that only leaves two officers to split the regular work load.

The council had four officers budgeted into the department’s annual budget.

City attorney Don Knappenberger told members that according to figures it takes 4.5 officers to give 24-hour coverage to a city the size of St. John. Stafford currently employs four full time officers with one part time officer.

Council members tabled the issue until the next meeting, Nov. 20.

In other business the council voted 3 to 1 to accept the bid from Spinnaker; a web design & hosting company out of Topeka, Kansas for $3000.00 to rework the city's website. The website was previously administered by a St. John resident for approximately $300 per year.

The $3,000 proposal is only for the initial design for the website. Additional changes or updates will have to be done by city personnel of there will be an additional cost of $1,000 per page update.

Council member Mark Bryant was the one nay vote for the redesign.