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City Council aims to lessen police budget cuts



Sacramento Police Department staff protest proposed budget cuts.

The Sacramento City Council members made it clear Tuesday night that they do not want to make the $12 million in cuts to the Police Department recommended in the proposed budget. But it’s unclear at this point how the council will lessen the cuts to the department.

A crowd of police staffers and supporters, which swelled to about 400 at its high point early Tuesday evening, turned out for the City Council’s budget hearing.

The city is grappling with a $39 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year. A total of 149 department staffers, including 80 sworn cops, would be laid off in the proposed budget, according to police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

The city currently has 701 sworn cops.

“Twelve million (dollars) in cuts is too much for public safety to share this burden,” Councilman Darrell Fong, a retired police captain, said.

At the end of the City Council meeting, which ran longer than four hours, six City Council members voted not to move forward with the current proposed budget of $12 million in cuts proposed by Interim City Manager Bill Edgar and Interim Deputy City Manager Betty Masuoka.

The city manager’s office is responsible for proposing the amounts of budget cuts, while Police Chief Rick Braziel is responsible for divvying up how to make the proposed cuts at the department.

The City Council makes final budget decisions.

Six of the nine council members rejected the proposed budget because three were absent.

Mayor Kevin Johnson was at the NBA draft lottery in New Jersey, representing the Sacramento Kings. Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell was mourning the recent death of her mother and Councilman Rob Fong was in Los Angeles on a business trip, according to Councilman Steve Cohn.

RE Graswich, the mayor’s special assistant, presented the following statement on behalf of Johnson:

“In Sacramento, we’re in the fourth year of a devastating budget crisis and we continue to face difficult challenges. When I ran for mayor in 2008, I said public safety would be my top priority.

“That continues to remain true today,” Graswich said. “Public safety is a core function of city government. It plays a critical role in how we operate as a full-service city.

“It’s critical that as we move forward, we continue to practice fiscal responsibility, eliminate wasteful practices, capitalize on efficiencies and make collective sacrifices to provide the service our residents expect and deserve. I look forward to continuing to work with my council colleagues and finding the best solutions to solving the budget crisis.”

Greg Galliano, a 25-year-old Sacramento police officer, was one of many department staffers who urged the council not to make the cuts. He said the department is currently dealing with “massive call volumes.”

“If we take these cuts,” Galliano said, “we’re going to experience something that we’re not going to be able to protect you from.”

Leong explained the breakdown of the proposed layoffs: Sworn cops, 80; Community Service Officers, 38; Crime Scene Investigators, 14; Supervising Dispatchers, 6; Records Supervisor, 1; Administrative and Clerical, 10.

At a press conference before the City Council meeting, police staffers held up numbers that signified they could be among the numbers of people laid off. 

Read the schedule of budget hearings here. Learn about the debate over cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department here.

The City Council is scheduled to adopt the city’s budget for the 2011/2012 fiscal year on June 21.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

 
  • LARRY MEADE

    It’s great to see that our mayor is listening to ideas and part of this conversa…. (what?!?) oh yeah, he decided that going to the NBA Draft was more important.

  • Savage

    It is disappointing that our mayor put the Kings as a priority over city budget hearings. Much more is at stake in Sacramento than losing the Kings.

  • Interesting how the police can field hundreds when their bloated budget is at risk…but can’t find a single officer to respond to calls.

  • Was their any discussion about police and fire starting to contribute to their own pensions — like the rest of the city employees do?

    • Through the last 4 years, the PD and Fire budgets and staffing have suffered the least. No Lay offs, no furloughs.

      The required employee contribution for Police and Fire is 9%, exempt Management 7% and Rank & File 7%.

      For Police, Fire and Exempt management, the employee compensation portion is all picked up by the city, on top of the employer’s contribution. In comparison to the rank and file employees pay 4% and the city 3%.

      The idea of a parcel tax for public safety is but “kicking the can” a little further down a dead end alley. Those differed pay raises and “catch up” step increases are coming home to roost.

      Before any parcel tax is considered for Public Safety…this pension contribution imbalance needs to change!

      The auditors report on pension and benefits graphically shows and states on pgs 33& 34:

      “Requiring all employees to contribute to the employee share of their pensions would save the City millions over the next few years. Such a change would require negotiations with labor unions, as contribution rates are set in labor agreements. As noted above, some employees already contribute 4 percent of their salaries to the employee contribution. If all employees contributed 4 percent to their pensions, the City would save about $39.7 million over the next five years – or about $7.9 million on average per year.”

      That seems like a good starting point!

      How many jobs would that $7.9million save?

    • Kathleen Haley

      Hi Advocate,

      It was really unclear what the council plans to do to scale back the $12 million in cuts. The only thing council members decided Tuesday was that they would not approve the current proposal of $12 million in cuts to the police department.

  • Rhonda Erwin

    Johnson states: “Public safety is a core function of city government. It plays a critical role in how we operate as a full-service city.” And that is sad. It’s sad that Public safety – suppression- is a core function of a city. What does that say for the city? Does it not suggest Crime is rampant in your city and you need to look at the root of it verses grabbing at law enforcement branches? Shouldn’t you look at ways to reduce the crime other than on the surface by simply continuing to place more and more law enforcement officers throughout a city?

    Do we have to be a city with law enforcement on every street, every block? Will we become a city where one half is guarded by the other half? Public safety goes beyond law enforcement. To keep the public safe we should provide jobs (other than law enforcement) I think it is sad that we’re a city which requires more and more funding for officers. It suggests city leaders lack a vision (and without a vision the people will perish) they’re unable to see the forest (to provide jobs for the low income community) through the trees (endorsements/ political career advancement…)

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Providing jobs will reduce the budget strains allowing more of us to be able to support city economics. The way our city leaders are headed the city will be in further debt as we will have to continue to support law enforcement verses having the low income community help to support the city. We’ll have more crime since we’ll lose more resources… If quality of life and freedom were a priority verses public safety crime would reduce. But I guess that won’t get the officials endorsements. It’s not about safety it’s about politics.

      And Johnson is not honest. Last year during the budget process his priority was not Public safety it was his Strong Mayor Proposal. This year during the budget process his priority is not public safety it is the Kings. He’s self absorbed. It’s about whatever makes him look good not what makes the city look good. When he ran against Fargo he took every opportunity to point out the city was #5 in crime now we’re #2 and he is in New Jersey for the NBA draft?? And don’t think I’m letting the counsel off the hook. Their turn is coming!

    • Richard Hanson

      So how does the city “provide” jobs? Perhaps the problem is Sacramento’s anti-business attitude plus the inability of that city government to properly manage costs and plan for the future.

  • too bad the City Council and Mayor don’t really bother looking at the these commnets from people. They would really learn something.

  • Craig Powell

    They read the comments.

  • Richard Hanson

    Maybe it is time for the City of Sacramento to disband and become an unincorporated part of the County. Then the overburdened area taxpayers will have to support only one government rather than two.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      The county of Sacramento is a mess too especially during budget times…

  • If not Police and Fire, where are the cuts going to come from?

    • I guess everything will have to cut. It still will not be enough….

    • http://www.cityofsacramento.org/graphics/Employee-Costs-by-Department_2010-Large.jpg

      In case you haven’t been paying attention, everybody has cut over the last 4years, some a lot more than others. Don’t forget that some depts, like utilities are supported by fees for services for various operations like water, sewer and garbage, also known as enterprise funds.

      http://www.cityofsacramento.org/finance/budget/documents/BudgetOpenHousePresentation040911.pdf

      Over the last 4 years…Police Cuts…18.5% Fire Cuts…14.6%

      With the exception of Charter Officers, Mayor and City Council & IT…who are at least double that…all others depts have cut 3 to 4 times that amount.

      No Lay-Offs or furloughs have occurred in with regards to public safety officers. Add to the fact that Public Safety officers have an additional amount of 31% of their current salaries, paid by the city, into their retirement plans, compared to 14% for most all other employees, the two dept combined , consume about 82% of the discretionary portion of the general fund…something’s out of wack.

      http://www.cityofsacramento.org/auditor/documents/audit_reports/Audit_of_Employee_Health_and_Pension_Benefits.pdf

      ck out exhibit 25 and do the math…

      Let’s say you are a poliiceman or firefighter making $65K a year…before overtime and no furloughs
      All other employees are required to one furlough a day per month…which equates to a 5% reduction in annual salary.

      65K + (65K x .31) = $85K before all other cost the city pays.

      Take a 65K ono-safety represented employee

      65K – (65K x 05) = 61.75 + ( 61.75 x .14) = $70.4 K before all other cost the city pays

      an additional $15K for that public safety officer…just because of the disparity of no furloughs and pension benefits.

      As stated in the auditors report…..about $8mi/yr could be saved by balancing employee contribution amounts at the current 4%.

  • If not police and fire, then everything else must go. There is only so much budget pie.

  • Kathleen Haley

    I checked in with police spokesman Norm Leong today. I asked him for the “out-the-door” layoffs – the numbers of actual people (not positions) who would leave the Police Department if the proposal goes forward. He said the number was 147. That figure includes the 80 layoffs of sworn cops.