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A Closer Look At The Police Budget

A reported 49% increase in the pension plan line item is actually 16%.

 

This article is written by Clinton Chief of Police Todd Lawrie:

As many of you are aware, the Town budget was defeated at referendum on May 9. We were asked to cut $29,000 from our budget and we identified $32,000 in savings in our salary line due to hiring and promotions from pending and recent retirements.  At this point there will be no loss of services, which is a priority for us. This represents approximately 1.3% reduction in the police budget proposal.

Some of the issues being raised regarding the Town budget specifically relate to the Police Department and I am hoping to address them so that you can all make informed decisions at the Wednesday, May 23 vote.

Clinton Police Pension Obligation

It was reported that there is a 49% increase in the pension plan line item.  The pension does not come under the Police budget, but I want to try to address it as best I can.  The following information was obtained from Finance Director Kevin Kane:

• The 2010-11 Actuarial Required Contribution (ARC) was provided to the Town on April 28, 2011 in the amount of $681,644 which was $120,120 higher than the original budget ($561,524) in 2010-11.  The Board of Finance did approve an internal budget transfer at Fiscal Year End in the amount of $120,120.

• The 2011-12 ARC was provided to the Town on May 12, 2011 in the amount of $700,749 which was $139,225 higher than the original budget ($561,524) in 2011-12.  A request did go forward to BOS & BOF in early 2011-12 to appropriate an additional $139,225 from RESERVES which was approved at a special Town Meeting.

• The 2012-13 ARC was provided to the Town on Nov 28, 2011 in the amount of $836,845 and that is the number being used (proposed) for the 2012-13 budget.

• It was reported that the increase for FY 2012-13 is $275,321 ($836,845 –$561,524 = $275,321) would be a 49% increase over last year. This is incorrect -The actual increase is $136,096 ($836,845 – $700,749 = $136,096) which is 16% over last year.

The Town has the actuary providing the budget figure in November now which is well in time for the budget which will help in the future. I cannot say whether the 16% increase is appropriate either but the pension was underfunded for many years and the current administration is attempting to address these shortcomings which is in all of our interests.

Police Salary Increase

The increase in the police salary line item is due to contract obligations. The police union had been working without a contract for two and a half years. They settled for 9.25% over a four year period and this will be the first time those raises will appear in our budget.  In exchange, one of the concessions made by the union was an alternative medical plan which reportedly saves the Town approximately $60K per year. The raises are in line with those given to other Town employees over the past several years but, again, this will be the first time they appear in the Police budget due to stalled contract negotiations.  When compared to area Police Departments, Clinton Officers do not appear at the top of the pay scale -- they fall somewhere in the middle. 

Our officers do an exceptional job for the Town of Clinton; calls for service have gone up over 80% in the past ten years, arrests are up over 75% during that same time period [click here for data].  Additionally, our staffing levels are well below the national and state averages.  National average is 2.44 officers per thousand residents.  Connecticut average is 2.08 officers per thousand resident. Clinton is 1.76 officers per thousand residents [click here and/or here for data].

Regardless of how you intend to vote, please do so. 

Thanks for your time.  If anyone has any questions I can answer please contact me at the number below.

Todd J. Lawrie

Chief of Police

Clinton Police Department
170 East Main Street
Clinton, Ct  06413
Phone: (860)669-0451 ext. 1100

Cletus May 21, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Thank you for the DETAILED information! As a tax payer, it is refreshing to see the facts presented in an understandable way. Now I can make a smart voting decision as opposed to basing a vote on assumptions! Thanks Chief!
Phil Sengle May 22, 2012 at 03:15 PM
As a member of the Police Commission (P.C.) I also want to set the record straight. Neither the P.C. or the P.D., manages the pension fund. I believe the Chief is correct in saying that the recent increases in funding of the plan are due to chronic underfunding in the past. Had past contrubutions been properly made it would have given those funds more time to grow at a time when we had fewer former officers drawing pensions. Some criticize even having pensions, but if we did not have pensions and other benefits that are somewhere near competitive, we would not be able to attract good officers, causing a downward spiral in the department. Also I want to assure voters that the increase in pension fund contributions is not due to increases in pension benefits. The formula for calculating pensions has not changed. The P.D. is an "open book" as the chief explained. Any question will be answered- just ask. The P.D. does a fine job with minimal staffing levels in the face of a vastly increased work load.

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