Chief answers budget questions

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Police Chief Timothy Storbeck met with the township council and administration to answer questions about budget proposal requests. He gave the council an information sheet containing information regarding the staffing and related questions.

Councilman Tim Wagner asked why there is an almost 8 percent increase in the police budget. Storbeck said the increase in the total budget for 2017 is 1.92 percent. This includes operating expenses and salary and wages.

Breaking it downThe individual increases were 0.5 percent for expenses and 1.4 percent for salaries and wages – calculated using the 2016 budgeted amount and the 2017 recommended, said Storbeck. He said a 7.55 percent increase was calculated by using the actual 2016 charged with the 2017 recommended.

“I don’t think that this is a fair or accurate way to present the increase,” said Storbeck. “In 2016 – as in every other year – the police department has been fiscally responsible and has only spent the money that was actually needed – not what was available. Any unused funds were returned to the township and money is budgeted for anticipated expenditures. If these expenditures are not required, we do not spend the money.”

Repairs and maintenanceWagner also questioned the patrol maintenance contracts budget. He said it increased from $36,000 in 2016 to $46,974 – a 30 percent increase.

Storbeck disagreed. He said there is not a 30 percent increase in that line item for 2017. He said it is the same amount of money that was requested and also budgeted for 2016. All of the money budgeted in 2016 was not spent, he said.

OvertimeThere is $205,000 in police overtime proposed in the budget. Storbeck explained that manpower is one of several factors affecting the proposed overtime budget.

“Manpower directly affects the amount of overtime in a year due to officers having mandatory training, specialized training, accrued time off and sick time,” explained Storbeck. “Since the police department is a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week operation, there is always a minimum manpower for officers on the street. Once the manpower drops below the minimum, an officer is hired to fill the vacancy. If enough time exists before the shortage, an officer can be moved with a schedule change.”

Storbeck said special events, such as the Autumn Lights Festival (ALF) and the township fireworks, require additional officers to man the events. He said these officers are hired on overtime as officers still have to cover the shift. The REAL program in the schools is also on overtime.

The new bail reform law is another factor affecting police overtime, said Storbeck. People who have been arrested and need bail set, have to be transported to the Passaic County Jail where the bail is set. This requires two officers to transport the individual to jail with the round trip taking approximately three hours.

Wagner asked how to reduce overtime.

A possible remedy for reducing the overtime number, said Storbeck, is additional officers and a reduction in services or events.

He said the overtime billable to outside vendors was $235,946 which included a 10 percent administrative fee. Without the fee the total overtime billed to outside vendors was $214,496.66.

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