Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Latest on the budget

The City Council tweaked the Mayor's proposed budget this morning, and the final action resolution will be based on the action they took this morning. I was planning on blogging about this tomorrow morning, but Deena Winter, the Lincoln Journal Star's government reporter wanted some reaction from me this afternoon, so I think I'll save myself the time of double entry by simply posting my response to her inquiry.

"I'm still trying to digest this, Deena, but it looks to me that the council has restored $340,000 to the police department: $190,000 from streets and $150,000 from contingency. We are still negotiating with LPS, so it is not settled yet what, if any, additional revenue will be forthcoming for the services of school resource officers. I'm not counting that revenue until I see an approved Inter-local Agreement.

It is my intention to plow additional revenue into police officers. The reduction of our authorized strength from 317 to 316, and the under funding of the rest of our personnel costs meant that we would have to operate below our authorized strength by up to 10 officers. The increases will help us largely avoid that, and we will be using as much additional revenue as is available to come back up to a strength of 317 sworn officers. I don't think there is anything we can do about the loss of the remaining 4.75 support positions, though.

As a practical matter, our January recruit class is going to be larger than it looked a month ago. We may have a little more breathing room in our overtime budget, too, which will be helpful--since the base salaries are going up 3.25% in the third year of a three year contract. It is noteworthy that the police overtime expense this year is less than the amount we paid in fiscal year 1993-1994 when the payroll was half it's present size.

It does not appear to me that there will be enough to add additional officers over and above 317, however, which is what we would need before we could draw against our existing COPS grant. Moreover, I would be hesitant to start doing so, even if we could get to 318 or 319, because the obligation is for four years--three years of the grant, and one year beyond it's conclusion. I don't think we would want to run the risk of paying money back to the Federal government, and the issue I see looming is that some of the restored funds are still coming from one-time sources, rather than an increase in revenue. We will see, though.

Right now, I think caution is in order. The City still has work to do in order to get our revenue and expenses into balance. I share Mayor Beutler's vision of how this needs to be done--methodically, maturely, and with a stronger community consensus about what services we want our City government to provide. The Mayor has been pretty clear about this with the department directors, and I think we all realize that next year's budget will be round two of a multi-year plan. "

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might want to go back and read a comment I posted in this blog on May 17 in response to a question from Jenn. It's not the post itself, but the second comment's last paragraph, that merits a re-read:

"When the dust clears on the City's current budget crisis, reasonable people will see that the police department's efficiency, our credibility in the community, and our record of strong financial self-control have paid off. We will be just fine, and better than most other City agencies."
What happened today is in large part the result of everyone on this department being frugal with gas, thinking twice before spending overtime that might be avoided, double checking the special details for potential reductions, keeping a close eye on the mileage, and so forth. We have built a reputation as good stewards of the public dollar, and that has been a team effort.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom Casady said...

I'm not letting personal insults, veiled or otherwise, through this, unless they are directed at ME, in which case I might or might not. To reiterate, it's my blog. But, to you-know-who-you-are: There are no promotions to assistant chief, now or in the next several years as far as I can see, and nobody's trying to impress me with their boot on someone's neck. We have a greivance process, use it. Or file a complaint with the Citizen Police Advisory Board.

Most of the captains have one foot out the door on their way to retirement, and can read the writing on the wall. That's an odd assertion that doesn't conform with reality. Ever cross your mind that it is human nature for everyone to paint themselves in the most favorable light?

Do you even read this blog? If you can't figure out that I'm trying to inform our citizens of the realities we deal with, then I must really be a very bad writer. I didn't see you at any of the City Council budget meetings or the public hearing. I was there. Ask the City Council members what I've been telling them since 1994.

Tom Casady said...

And another thing,

Just what do you think these previous posts are about, anyway?

One fine day
School violence strikes Lincoln
How many people have to die?
No simple solution
Off to a good start
Keeping a lid on it
Let the games begin
Catch your breath
Sucking sound from downtown
Thursday nigh fights
Making ends meet
Busy few days for investigations
Curbing yobbish behaviour

I've been giving the same spiel about our small size, big issues, and phenomenal bang-for-the-buck to citizen academy classes, mayors, reporters, and city councils since the earth's crust cooled. Where the heck have you been?

Atticus said...

Ok. All you did there was to make me REALLY curious as to what idiotic things Anonymous 4:58 asserted. Although I don't always agree with your perception of things, I do think that you have done a good job of relating some of the realities of our work. And actually you are more frank than I would have expected given your position. These are things that most citizens are unaware of and would never know if you didn't provide this forum. Certainly these realities are not presented in the LJS or other local news outlets. So thanks for that... but don't tease us with responses to entries we can't see. After all, this is the voyeur generation...

Ed S 359 said...

Don’t you hate it when Casady responds to a post or posts that, for whatever reason, he does not allow on his blog? I know I do. I think he does it just to pique our curiosity and to make sure we keep coming back to his blog.

Here is what I do believe; if it is worth saying out loud it is worth signing your name to. Casady can’t fire you because he does not like you, he can’t even really affect your work environment because you disagree with him. Sign your da@$ name and be ready to back up your point of view, it is your’s, it is real and it has value.

Take pride in your work; always strive to do the thing that should be done. You will survive and prosper here at LPD and maybe even achieve some of your career goals in spite of your rabble rousing. Then, at the end of your career, upon retirement, you will look back on your service with satisfaction and pride.

Personally, I’m somewhat ashamed of my self and all LPD police officers. Our spouses showed up at the council meeting yesterday and from what I hear spoke eloquently with a positive tone on our behalf, many thanks and dozens of roses to each of them. I’m ashamed because I was not there. We sent our significant others to do our battle then we did not even show up to shout them encouragement, let alone speak for ourselves. It was cowardly on our part; at least they were there for us.

Here is another thing I believe, the council’s action today was a resounding affirmation of the hard work and the dedication to service embodied in each and every man and woman working for the Lincoln Police Department. All of us, commissioned and non-commissioned alike, should be most encouraged with the vote of confidence given to us (reflected by the city council’s budget) by the citizens of our city.

Despite our internal bickering and disagreements we have always earned every penny our citizens pay us. Despite the internal differences we constantly engage in I am confident we will continue to earn and deserve every penny we will be paid. (Whether or not the city council will agree pay us what we are worth, comparison wise, is another question.) Take a moment to thank each other for this. It is no small feat, especially when you consider how other city departments fared in this budget.

Be encouraged that your contribution to the city and to the Lincoln Police Department has made us the best, most efficient police department in the country. Be proud and ever vigilant. Our city believes in us, let us believe in ourselves.

Tom Casady said...

Atticus:

They weren't idiotic assertions. Myopic, perhaps, somewhat similar to my own myopic opinions as a jaded veteran of seven years at age 27. You see the world through your own lens, and seldom question its clarity.

We've surely got to get beyond this though, or our idiotic history will always repeat itself. Good grief, not ONE--not ONE of the captains on this police department can describe my living room furniture. They were good sergeants, good officers, good recruits. They are trying--as we all are--to do the right thing as, for the most part, their careers wind down, with no personal gain whatsoever on the line.

This doesn't mean that sergeants, captains, assistant chief, or chief are always right. All of us--all of us--make our mistakes and harobr our own misperceptions. But I am growing increasingly weary of the questioning of effort, motive, loyalty, and honor.

The people who formed LPU and led through incredibly difficult times, the likes of which many officers have yet to experience, deserve at least a little respect.

Disagree as you will when someone with a rather strong personal interst renders his or her version of the events leading up to that nasty "education", the tendency of this department towards cannibalism is starting to wear on me. Stand up and be counted.

Proud LPD Employee said...

Life at LPD would be so much better if everyone would just do their job and not analyze or criticize everyone else. Everyone is busy and feels overworked and under appreciated at times, however we are all on the SAME TEAM working towards the same goals. Everyone has their own opinions and perceptions but until you have done someone else's exact job (worked in that position) you should not judge. We all need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and help each other and support one another.

Anonymous said...

I was very skeptical of this blog when it started. Curiosity is a characteristic of police officers and curiosity brought me to read the blog. After reading a few, I realized there was value in what topics that you chose to open for discussion. I now think ‘Chief’s Corner’ was a good idea.

I’m relieved that the budget didn’t cut commissioned officers, but as you related earlier it takes more than just officers/investigators to get a case to court. I think you did an exemplary job in explaining the numerous tasks our civilian personnel perform and explaining how they are critical to our job.

I think your blog would be an excellent forum to educate the public on the difference between a traditional police officer and a generalist officer/investigator. I think a good portion of the public and maybe even some of the elected officials have the perception that officers show up, quell a disturbance or take a report and leave. Though we have full time investigators and team detectives, officers on the street level try to balance out meeting the demand for calls for service, yet performing critical tasks such as crime scene processing (burglaries, sexual assaults, etc.), field and traditional interviews/interrogations, and numerous other ‘follow-up’ tasks. Throw into the mix warrants, traffic stops, tavern checks, and just plain good old police pro-activity and you have one thick stew.

When you explain how small this department is, it’s not just officers to make traffic stops and quell disturbances, it’s officer/investigators trying to keep up with the work load and provide quality investigations for the citizens who where unfortunate to find themselves a victim of a crime. When the department is over taxed, pro-activity is difficult, and maintaining quality and timely investigations is a challenge. I think you said it best once before ‘We owe it to the victim we have yet to meet’.

Conclusion, I’m glad the budget didn’t cut officers/investigators. I hope we get to keep SRO’s because they are valuable not just to the schools but their ground matter knowledge of the children in their school is extremely valuable to the rest of us. I’m disheartened that we lost civilian positions, because it affects all of us down the road. Finally, I’m perplexed in the realization that despite the fact no officer positions were cut, by not being able to increase the authorized strength, we slip ever so slowly, but surely further behind in keeping up what our citizens deserve.
Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

I agree, and in light of the new changes and team concept needed, lets get some BDU uniforms... :)

Tom Casady said...

Soemthing that would coordinate well with those ball caps I'm so fond of, like the security guards wear? ;-)

Seriously, I think we are due for a uniform overhaul, and there's a lot of new product out there that is pretty nice from a functionality standpoint and still looks sharp.

Matter of money:

4 trousers x 317 x $80 = $101,440
8 shirts x 317 x $60 = $152,160
1 jacket x 317 x $180 = $57,060
1 duty rig x 317 x 276 = $87,492

Total: $398,052, plus a little bit for a working stock. :-0

Anonymous said...

What is you opinion of the women that went to the City Council to speak on our behalf?

Tom Casady said...

Well organized, intelligently presented, and effective. The feedback I have heard from people not associated with the department confirms these perceptions.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of uniforms, shorts would be very helpful and comfortable on Saturday when the heat index hits 111 degrees. What's your opinion on shorts? I think they have the casual look for the hard working investigative officer. A cool, happy, casual looking officer is a happy officer.

Anonymous said...

"I wear these shorts because I need to move like a cheetah. A law enforcement cheetah."
I think the shorts need to stay for the bike patrol only. Get some summer pants if you're hot.