2012-2013 Budgeting

Budget or BustWhen I first made the decision to begin a career in law enforcement, all I could think about was chasing down bad guys, helping those who couldn’t help themselves, and saving lives. Those things still provide me with the greatest joy of my job. I never imagined that I would be sitting at a desk reviewing spending forecasts, projected revenues, and assembling a budget. Although not the highlight of my day to day activities, it is something that is extremely important to me.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wanted to be clear about the budget I am preparing. The budget ideas compiled by me and those who work to assist me will be placed into a budget proposal. The proposal will be presented to the city council for a vote. The council members are the legislative members that must approve the budget for the police department as well as the rest of the city. When I write or speak of any budget items or ideas, please keep in mind that I do not have the authority to implement my own budget. I can only prepare a proposal for consideration. Once the proposal is completed I plan to make it available to you for review. I hope you will take the time to review it and ask questions if necessary. You will then be able to express your satisfaction or otherwise with your council member before a vote.

Most of you are not aware that I actually have business experience in the private sector. I have successfully operated my own company for a number of years. I understand the great pressures of keeping within a budget to maintain operations. However, when you fail in the private sector you shut the doors. Shutting the doors is not an option for us here. Could you imagine dialing 9-1-1 and receiving the message, “We’re sorry, but our offices are closed..”? I don’t joke to make light of the situation, but rather to bring light to the importance of proper budget preparation.

I will be working closely with all levels of the municipal government to prepare the police department’s budget. I am not a lone ranger attempting any of this alone. In addition, you may have some ideas you’d like to express. I would definitely be glad to hear any questions, comments, or concerns.

A few of the most important items in this year’s budget planning are: wages, uniforms, and body armor.

WAGES

I am looking into multiple ways to adjust wages to be competitive with agencies of similar size and workload. In fact, I am doing what I can, within reason, to increase wages enough so Cordell will be on the higher end of the competition. The wage increases will benefit the overall budget by allowing us to recruit and retain quality personnel. Reducing the turnover of personnel in this department is my number one goal. A reduction of turnover will directly result in less overtime, lower training expenditures, and increased effectiveness of the police force. Not to mention the reduced liabilities of civil lawsuits. We have already taken steps toward making changes, but we must confirm them in the budget.

UNIFORMS

Since July of 2009, we have been using a uniform company to lease and clean our uniforms. The type and style of the uniforms offered by the company do not meet the standards of utility I would like to see. Having adorned this specific uniform for three years, I have grown tired of its wear. It just doesn’t hold up to the rugged duty we require. Even more important, the contractual services that accompany them are in the range of $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 yearly. I am currently planning to end the contractual services, end the lease of uniforms, and allow officers to be responsible for their own dress. The police department will provide an initial set of uniforms to get started, but then each officer would be personally responsible for care, maintenance and replacement. I am estimating an initial cost of $3,500.00 to replace the uniforms after our contract ends this June. A uniform and laundry incentive will be given to those that must keep a duty uniform. The yearly cost for that should not exceed $3,600.00. So, for the first year we should expect nearly the same line item amount for uniforms which was $8,000.00 for 2011-2012. Although, when we look ahead to 2013-2014 we see a 50% reduction in cost. The best thing about it is that the new uniforms we’re looking into are some of the most advanced on the market.

BODY ARMOR

One of the most important purchases this year will be body armor. Many do not know, but the manufacturers of soft body armor place an expiration date on the ballistic panels. The general life expectancy of soft body armor is 5 years. Our officers were equipped with Level IIA ballistic vests in mid 2007. Those armor panels expire in a couple of months. We are currently looking into upgrading to Level IIIA soft body armor which will provide a little more protection. We are still going through pricing options, but it is looking to cost an estimated $5,000.00 for a total of 6 vests. If we are able to provide the equipment to our officers, each will be required to make use of it. I would like to note, however, that each officer here willingly chooses to wear a vest each and every tour of duty.

Work will be ongoing to provide the best budget solutions possible. I believe in conservative spending. I absolutely despise wasteful spending. I will never ask for anything that will not directly benefit this community. I will constantly work to review the cost effectiveness of our operations and make changes where it’s necessary.

Thank you kindly for your valuable time. I very much appreciate all of you! Stay safe and God bless!