Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Priority one

Last summer, readers of my then-new blog followed the trials and tribulations of the budget season. I've been through many of these, and it's never a walk in the park. Last year, though, was something quite different: the City's revenue was obviously not keeping up with expenses, and serious cuts were pending. At the eleventh hour, the police department escaped the long knives. This wasn't the case with other departments, though, and some serious pain was experienced.

I realized last year that the 2008-2009 budget would be more of the same, and perhaps worse--since the City took advantage of some one-time only money to balance the current budget. Think about it: if you house payment with your tax rebate this year, what will you do next year, when there is no rebate? So, the budget season is now upon us, and my presentation of our proposed police department budget to the Mayor is scheduled for tomorrow.

Mayor Beutler has a firm grasp on the City's predicament, and for this reason he has been engaged in a strategy to force citizens (and City Council members) to face the music. The City's revenue simply isn't keeping up with the cost of delivering our services. In the coming 2008-2009 fiscal year, the cost of delivering exactly the same services will exceed the City's projected revenue by $5.9 million. Something has to give. We've got to decide exactly what we want from City government, and exactly what we are willing to pay.

This past weekend was a step in that direction. Following up on the scientific survey of 600 Lincoln residents commissioned by the City and conducted by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, a meeting with about 51 of the 600 participants took place on Saturday. The participants were drawn from those who participated in the random survey. They received a sobering briefing on the City's financial situation. Following this, they participated in a day of "deliberative discussions." This is a process the Public Policy Center has employed to put some more meat on the bones of the survey process. The City is also hosting an on-line survey and town hall meetings, although these are not scientifically controlled.

At the end of the day, the participants ranked the City's seven outcomes in order of priority. Safety and Security was ranked first by each of the six break-out groups. Since the mission of the Lincoln Police Department is to provide quality police services that promote a safe and secure community, our purpose for existing is pretty much at the heart of what citizens ranked as their top priority in a time of declining resources. Our challenge is to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us, to deliver our services efficiently, and to continue to earn the respect of citizens who support our mission as their top priority.

12 comments:

Hillbilly Mike said...

I gotsa say that this budget is a big step for us tax payers. Without a good steward our tax money may be spent on things like candy or mints to set out for the public like at those restraunts and stuff like that. We are lucky that the tax dollar is spent with a caring spirit. It just shows you how wise we people are to elect such good people to help us spend and stuff like that.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

What is your prediction with Omaha and their budget? I know a little about their retirement problems, and what it is doing to the department. I know that security services can never be totally cut, yet is that a resolution?

Anonymous said...

It is easy to build trust when a department of your size is so efficiently operated in a city the size of Lincoln.

You have an excellent track record, so I'm sure the citizens can expect the same efficiency if additional budget dollars are sent your way.

Anonymous said...

The citizens of this town are way over taxed now, compared to other cities. Are you telling me more is coming? That's crazy. I think hillibilly mike is a moron if he thinks the elected officals care about the citizens of this city. Let's forget about building new arena's and other unneccesary buildings. How much is that creek project costing tax payers. Don't tell me that wasn't a big waste of tax money. As far as LPD goes, get rid of some cops and you won't need more money. This town don't need to employ so many cops. The little bit of serious crime this city generates could be taken care of by half the force, if we had a chief that new what his job was.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should take over the comm center or at least end calls like this one getting dispatched--A8-034329 . This one came out at our busiest time of the day and last I checked we're not the parents of this kid. My parents never had to call the cops to get me to behave. They did it themselves.
This is a waste of our valuable resources that are too few to start with and very costly.

Anonymous said...

Areas like the "The Core" Need more attenion not less. It is profoundly important to continue our efforts in that area. The budget needs to reflect that.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 5:48-

I agree completely. Wish I would have had this parent on the phone personally.

Anonymous said...

Look at how much money the schools get, yet look at the grammar exhibited in these comments. Comments...something, something, grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

ARRRRRRRGH!!!! (sp?)

Anonymous said...

anon 5:00 p.m., definitley is on to something. Tax payers are being are being rob for all these needless projects and LPD needs to lay off some cops. When on any given nice day you can see 3 or 4 of them standing around together with radar guns in their hands, then they apparently don't have enough to do.

HeHateMe said...

If there are cops standing around with radar guns then they are doing something.... duh!

Anonymous said...

Come on anon. 8:20, you know as well as anyone, running radar is a waste of time. It's just quick and easy revenue............duh!