Overtime Issues Set the Stage for Municipal Service Cuts (KTVA.com Exclusive)
Municipal departments wrangle with ballooning budgets
While transportation director Lance Wilber said his department was in the process of hiring and training the drivers necessary to bring it up to full staff levels, other departments will feel the pinch of overtime overspending throughout the year.
The police department will cut back on special enforcements throughout the year in the wake of the all-consuming Koenig investigation. Deputy Chief Steve Smith said it was the nature of the job.
“That is police work, you can’t not investigate it,” he said. “That’s our challenge: Here’s what we’ve got to get done, here’s what we have to do it with.”
Police labor spending, including overtime, topped $17 million over the first three months of 2012 alone.
He said the public safety overtime budgets were one of the most closely scrutinized elements of their work. By going through it early in the year, he said the department would need to cut back on specialized assignments like bike patrols, focused enforcements in high-crime neighborhoods or targeted DUI patrols during holiday weekends.
Putting a temporary hold on special enforcements wouldn’t necessarily mean an upswing in crime rates: Smith said there were no hard numbers tying the two together, and crime rates hinged on everything from economic to demographic factors, too.
But when money becomes tight, the extra patrols and special enforcements will be the first to go.
“We do the best we can and we focus on the things we have to focus on,” Smith said.