New Castle city hall will be limited to appointments only throughout the year due to budget cuts handed down by city council for a full-time security guard.
Previously, a security guard manned a desk at the base of the first-floor staircase to ensure visitors signed in, watched camera feeds and attended council meetings for an annual salary of $38,016 plus $50 per city council meeting.
“To completely eliminate a security guard would be a hazard to, I think, the employees of the building,” Mayor Chris Frye said at a budget workshop last month.
Frye proposed the service cost — with no raise from 2020. However, city council cut the expenditure to $950.
The city council approved the budget during a special meeting on Dec. 30, leaving only enough money for security services during city council meetings, which routinely occur four times a month.
Council president Tom Smith said during a workshop he wasn't aware of any other city hall without a municipal court with a full-time security guard and wondered if it was a needed expense.
Frye pushed back by saying there have been multiple instances of public disturbances in the building during the day with which the security guard aided in defusing.
Frye noted this week he needed time to make changes to secure the entryway of the building by installing buzz-in access and potentially relocating the code enforcement department downstairs within the former police station. Frye also plans to seek a grant or funding for a walk-through security gate.
Residents who need to pay taxes, drop off documents, buy extra garbage tags, visit code enforcement or the tax office can do so at the Grant Street entrance receptionist window.