Friday, September 2, 2011

IMPD Budget Shows 5% Cut

The introduced 2012 budget is curious in many ways.  Some of the anomalies will surface in this blog entry.  The topic for this morning is the fact that the 2012 IMPD budget is 95% of the 2011 budget - and why I care and why I don't care.

Why I care is easy - Because Mayor Ballard, in his introduction of the budget to the Council, said

The 2012 budget proposal reflects my commitment to public safety. I’ve proposed flat line spending for all public safety and criminal justice agencies, which together consume 85 percent of the 2012 general fund budget.
This is Mayor Ballard's fourth budget, and the fourth time that the facts did not support what he told the public and the press.  I care because I believe that the public has a right to know the truth at all times.

Why I don't care about the 5% decrease is more involved in how IMPD has approached budgeting in the past and what that likely means for the introduced budget.

Lets start with the 2012 budget for IMPD that is under consideration by the Council.  It calls for a total of $192 million.  For the current 2011 budget, IMPD got $199 million, plus it was just appropriated an additional $2.7 million through Prop 171 (see "The Public's Right To Know - Dragging The Super Bowl Expenditures Out Into The Open"), for a grand total of $202 million.

So, simple math -- the difference between the current 2011 budget and the proposed 2012 budget amounts to a 5% cut.

I must stop here to mention one of the 'anomolies' that I alluded to.  That is the use of placeholders to represent budget cuts that have been demanded by the Controller, but the Departments have not yet decided exactly where to fit into the line items.  This was the case for the Parks budget, with a -$1 million line item.  It was the case for the Superior Courts, with a more modest -$21,000 line item.

For the IMPD budget there is actually a -$4 million placeholder that has not been distributed into the various line items.  Will it go into salaries, supplies, third party contracts?  At this moment, nobody in the public can really know.  We'll have to wait until September 21, when they will hand out changes in the line item budgets just before the Public Safety Committee meeting starts.  And then we have to hope that, unlike Parks and the Superior Courts, officials have actually made the decision on where to allocate the cuts.

There is another interesting line item that I just don't know how to interpret.  That is the line item for 'lease and rental of equipment'.  The 2010 actual spend on this line was $2.4 m, the 2011 adopted budget for this line was $8.5 m, but the 2012 introduced budget for this line is -$733,287.  Curious.

And last on my 'anomalies' list, there is no footprint in the introduced IMPD budget of any portion of the $4.2 m 'donation' from the CIB to cover super bowl expenses.  The overtime line item actually drops from $7.2 m to $6.5 m.

So why don't I care that the IMPD budget is being cut by 5%?

First, this is the second Ballard budget where revenue drops, and the first where real cuts of significant amounts must be made.  I mention in my last post (see "Is The Sale Of City Assets The Real Reason For This Year's Budget Chrunch [sic]?"), that the drop in tax revenues is relatively modest and handled by the 6% reduction requested of all non-public safety departments.  The real hit to the budget appears to be another $50 million, and stem from the sale of the sewer utility and the parking meters.  So, even though I disagreed with those sales, they still must be dealt with in this and future budgets.  In my opinion, that means that we must make cuts in all departments and not spare some, especially those with the largest dollar appropriations and therefore the most wiggle room.

Second is the apparent practice of IMPD to pad its budgets significantly.  If you look back through the last few years' budgets you find this:

2009 budget
In 2008, a budget for 2009 was adopted for a total of $222 million
In 2009, while the next year's budget was introduced, the projected spend for IMPD in 2009 was noted as $192 million
In 2010, the actual 2009 spend was reported as $187 million - a full 15.8% less than the adopted amount

2010 budget
In 2009, a budget for 2010 was adopted for a total of $210 million
In 2010, while the next year's budget was introduced, the projected spend for IMPD in 2010 was noted as $208 million
In 2011, the actual 2010 spend was reported as $196 million - a more modest 6.7% less than the adopted amount

The third reason is the Hummer I saw parked near City Hall one day with IMPD logos on it and an additional decal thanking the crooks for the car.  I assume it was forfeited as property obtained through drug trafficking.  But, come on boys (and girls).  Did you HAVE to keep the Hummer, or did you just want to drive around in it?  These are tough times and all of our public servants should abandon ostentatious and unnecessary displays of opulence.  I know this is a petty reason on my part.  But, keeping that car and trying to justify it on the car itself was petty on the part of whoever made that decision.

With these large budgets, a million is less than a percent.  But, it is real money that can be used elsewhere and not tied up in a game of pad the budget.

We'll have to wait for the updated line item expenditures to see where IMPD officials allocate the $4 million in budget cuts, over and above the nearly $6 million cut already distributed among line items, to be sure where the fallout will be felt.  At that time we can all decide what we think is fair and prudent cuts for IMPD in a particularly bad year for the budget.

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