Crime down? Budget gap? Glendale considers cutting police budget
PD has 50 of 72 full-time employees
Glendale - Facing a potential $277,000 shortfall in 2012, the city's Police Department budget may be on the cutting board.
A preliminary budget is not available yet, but Glendale officials are preparing for a deficit driven by a state budget that reduces shared revenue and prohibits raising taxes.
That means aldermen will need to raise revenue, as in fees, or cut services, including public safety. Neither option is desired.
"We're looking at ways to reduce costs across the board without impacting service delivery," said City Administrator Richard Maslowski.
However, some city officials at Monday's Common Council meeting thought that was not likely.
"Unfortunately, in the budget process, you have to look at some things you don't want to look at, and in this case it's public safety," Alderman Elliott Moeser said.
"I don't think any time's a good time to cut public safety," Maslowski said. "But the economy makes that, unfortunately, an option the city will be forced to consider."
Reportable crimes down
Ironically, talk of reducing the public safety budget came at the same meeting at which Police Chief Thomas Czarnyszka unveiled an encouraging Police Department 2010 annual report. "Our crime rate for 2010 went down slightly from previous years," he said. "That's consistent with national trends."
That report indicates that last year there were 894 Uniform Crime Report offenses, or offenses that are reportable to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2009, that number was 904.
Of 2010's 894 crimes, 771 were larceny, or theft, most of which were shoplifting offenses.
For that reason, one full-time police officer is assigned to Bayshore Town Center, Maslowski said.
"Bayshore is a beat unto itself," he said.
In the past, Alderman Bob Whitaker thought the mall contributed to the cost of police security, and as the city tightens its belt, Maslowski said revisiting such an agreement is not out of the question. "That is under discussion," he said.
Retirees haven't been replaced
Czarnyszka is opposed to cutting the department's budget, as recent retirees have not been replaced. "I'm already short three people, so we'll see how many they can carve out," he said.
Maslowski thinks it's not likely those positions will be filled. "I don't think there will be funds available," he said.
Whitaker, chairman of the Police Commission, also opposed public safety cuts, as he's unconvinced the crime rate will continue its decline.
"In today's economic climate, with people out of work ... is it likely that will continue to go down? I doubt it.
"It's nice it's down," he added, "but it's not a big difference."
Whitaker also said he understands why the police budget would be targeted; it's one of the city's biggest expenses.
"It's easy to focus on that because it's a big portion," he said.
Of Glendale's 72 full-time employees, 50 are police officers. Since police were not included in the state's revised law that ended collective bargaining over benefits and other matters for other public workers, Maslowski is hoping concessions will be made when a new contract is negotiated.
"That will dictate what revenue the city has," he said.
Negotiations with the police stalled until the state budget was deliberated. Now that that's resolved, he said, talks would begin within the next two weeks.
The city's budget process is in its early stages. A proposed budget is not due until Oct. 1, Maslowski said, after which public hearings on city spending will be held. The council must adopt a budget by November.
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