Police Overtime Pay Drastically Cut? Oops, Not.
It seems the pencil pushers at City Hall are wanting to show some progress in the fight to reduce the budget deficit, or perhaps at least give the apearence of a reduction. An Emeryville resident has uncovered what appears to be a fiscal shell game conducted by City Hall meant to highlight a new regime of fiduciary prudence in the city's budget.
Emeryville resident and UC Professor Brian Carver revealed the budgetary legerdemain in a strongly worded May 7th letter to the council. The letter showed the police overtime pay went from $444,274 in 2007-08 to $579,675 in 2008-09. In 2009-10 the 'Estimate to Complete' is $600,000 and a 2010-11 budget (as well as a 2011-12 budget) of $174,000. He pointed out, "Instead of spending the $600,000 we spent over the last year on police overtime, we are budgeting just $174,000, a more than 70% reduction".
"At first glance, this appears to be excellent news" he extolled but added, "The truth is something else entirely". In an entry eerily similar to George Bush's war budgeting tactics, Mr Carver reveals the same budget line shows that in 2009-10, we also budgeted just $174,000 for police overtime and nonetheless ended up over-spending that budgeted amount by more than 244%.
This problem was discussed at the April 16th Finance Committee meeting and the recommendation was made that the Chief of Police be required to return to council and request authorization for additional overtime if the budgeted amount is exceeded in the coming year. Mr Carver points out how this idea is flawed in its implementation, "In October or November when the Police Chief comes to the council and says they have exceeded the budgeted amount for overtime and requests an additional budget allocation, what will the council say? At that point it will be too late and the council will have little choice but to approve the additional overtime".
Police Department personnel have indicated much of the overtime pay can be attributed to just two sources; the Bay Street Mall and Kitty's, a cabaret on Hollis Street near the Berkeley border.
Brian Carver, a professor at the School of Information at UC, lives with his wife and two children in the Triangle neighborhood. He and his wife have long been advocates for the Child Development Center and their children attend the Center.