Facing a shortage in manpower, the Medford Police Department has doled out about $1 million in overtime pay in the last year, police Chief Leo Sacco said Wednesday. That's about $400,000 more than budgeted for.
Sacco appeared before the City Council Wednesday as it undergoes its review of the municipal budget.
The big spending on overtime was partly a result of a delay in the hiring of six new police officers, according to Sacco, who were included in the 2012 fiscal budget but won't be entering academy until later this month. The 2012 fiscal year for the city ends June 30. Money budgeted for the six positions -- $327,744 -- was used to offset the increase in overtime, Sacco said. The 2013 budget as proposed would increase the overtime budget from $600,000 to $800,000.
The six new patrolmen will bring the total number of police officers in the city up to 99, that's 33 fewer than Medford had in 2000, Sacco said.
Budget Down as Quinn Bill Funding Gets Axed
Overall, the police budget is slated to fall from $10.84 million in 2012 to $10.62 million in 2013. That includes a $522,000 reduction in funding Quinn Bill benefits, which pay for higher education expenses for police officers.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that municipalities are not responsible for paying the state's half of Quinn Bill funding. The police budget had $1.07 million for the purpose of higher education in 2012.
The reduction drew some criticism from City Councilor Paul Camuso, who said the city needed to come to an agreement with the police union before cutting Quinn Bill funding.
"It may not be a realistic number," Camuso said.
Camuso attempted to take the council into executive session to discuss the matter, but city Budget Director Stephanie Burke refused, saying she could not discuss it since it was part of a contract negotiation with the police union.
City Councilor Robert Maiocco said he expected money to be transferred to compensate for the reduction.
"There will be money coming for a transfer into this account," he said. "I don’t know when it's coming, but its going to be a good chunk of dough."
Aside from the cut in Quinn Bill funding, the other line items in the police budget total a $304,628 increase.
Odds and Ends
The following items are included in the expenses section of the police department's budget. None are new for 2013.
- Laundry, $1,000
- Food for Prisoners, $2,000
- uniforms, $42,000
- K-9 supplies, $2,800
- Plaques/Merit Badges, $1,000