Thursday, April 9, 2009

Budget update

At today’s Board of Police Commissioners business meeting, we announced the creation of a 12-person task force to review and make recommendations about how to cut the department’s budget by $15 million, in response to the city’s cut in the department’s budget.

The task force will have to present their recommendations to the Board of Police Commissioners by April 28 because the new fiscal year starts May 1. Two deputy chiefs will co-chair the group. Other members will include: two members of the Fraternal Order of Police’s executive committee; representatives from each of the department’s five bureaus; Mayor Mark Funkhouser; and City Council members Cathy Jolly and Jan Marcason.

The budget task force will review several recommendations from the budget office to cut costs. Some of these could include laying off the recruits now in the Police Academy who are scheduled to graduate in August, leaving vacant many law enforcement and civilian positions (at present, there are 42 law enforcement and 41 civilian vacancies), requiring unpaid furloughs for all department members and cutting overtime hours – which could affect everything from manpower on the street to being put on hold when you call 911.

We are doing everything in our power to minimize the effects of these cuts on our employees and on the community. We are aggressively pursuing federal grant funding, but we must compete against police departments from all over the country for it. In addition, today the Board of Police Commissioners approved an incentive program to encourage early retirements.

Final decisions on what will be cut will not be made until April 28. We are being very transparent with the process, and I trust the ad hoc budget task force and our budget office will make the best out of a bad situation.

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