Derby Police Chief Gerald Narowski unveiled a proposed budget that looks to reduce overtime costs within the police department by $80,000 — or 20 percent — over the next year.
“I told you I was going to ask for less (overtime) money and I am going to ask you for less money,” Narowski told members of the Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation during a meeting in Derby City Hall Tuesday (March 5).
Tuesday’s tax board meeting kicked off the city’s annual budget formulation process. The process starts with various department heads proposing 2013-2014 fiscal plans to the tax board, explaining their proposals, then taking questions from tax board members.
A public hearing will be scheduled in the spring.
The proposed 2013-2014 police budget totals $3,497,904. That is a 1.7 percent decrease from the $3,558,920 police budget currently in place.
A caveat, according to the chief — the proposed budget does not include raises for police officers. The current union contract expires in June. Negotiations on a new contract are scheduled to begin shortly, Narowski said.
Even if a new union contract includes a 2 percent raise for officers — Derby wage increases this year have been roughly 2 percent across the board — the police budget would still be .3 percent below the budget currently in place, Narowski said.
The savings are coming because the tax board spent money last year to hire two new patrol officers. Narowski requested those two new officers be hired to bolster the ranks and help bring down overtime.
Narowski believes the strategy is working, which is why he is predicting he’ll spend $80,000 less on overtime in 2013-2014.
It’s an estimate that has been checked and re-checked, but overtime in law enforcement can be unpredictable, so Narowski suggested the tax board place $40,000 in the city’s “special working account.”
“Don’t want it. Don’t want it in my budget. Don’t plan on using it. It’s a cushion, just in case,” Narowski said.
Last year Narowski told the tax board three Derby officers were planning to retire by June 2013.
That prompted the tax board to give permission to the chief to hire three more officers to take the trio’s place.
So, a total of five new officers are currently in training to become new Derby cops. They’ll be on the road in September.
But there’s a wrinkle.
Only one of the three retiring officers still intends to retire in June. The other two officers have indicated they now intent to retire in November 2013 and January 2014, the chief said.
In order to avoid layoffs, Narowski requested the tax board fund the officers’ salaries for part of the upcoming fiscal year.
He said he anticipates the retirements happening, but the department can’t “force” the officers to retire.
In terms of policing, Narowski said he wants to create an additional sergeant’s position in the upcoming fiscal year. Doing so will allow the department to have a sergeant supervising patrol officers at all times.
Currently, if a sergeant isn’t on duty, the officer with the most experience acts as the officer in charge.
Narowski also asked that department cell phones come back under the jurisdiction of the police department, instead of City Hall.
Currently, cell phone records can be tracked by city employees outside the police department, which isn’t good for covert investigations, the chief said.
Narowski also wants to switch to Verizon for cell phone service. Officers often use their own cell phones because the current carrier isn’t reliable.
“Our system totally collapsed and failed during the hurricane and during the blizzard. Sprint and Nextel did not function,” Narowski said.