The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Thursday, October 09, 2008

City Saves Money By Plugging a Hole in "Extra Duty" Police Program

In August 5, 2008, the Vanguard examined the 100K Club of Davis and looked in particular at the amount of overtime each department received.

On August 14, 2008 the Vanguard acting on a tip examined an aspect of the overtime given to the police department. We learned of an "extra duty" program that is sometimes given to police officers in their time off. For instance it could be for various groups event who contract with the city, it could be for patrolling apartment complexes for four hours at a time when they have had problems with parties. Some officers like to pick up the extra work, some do not.

The groups who request the extra duty officer get sent an invoice and the officer gets paid time and a half. The city accounts for this under program number 5619--everything listed under 5619 is being paid by sources other than city money.

It turns out, roughly $70,000 of that $627,000 in overtime is not paid for by the city but rather by these private groups.

At the time, we were told that this money was paid for by these private groups to the city. The belief was that it was not costing the city anything to administer these programs.

That belief turns out to not be true. But to the credit of the city in this case, they have re-negotiated this portion of the MOU with the police department in order to plug this hole and make it revenue neutral. This past week, it appeared as a consent item on the agenda.

The staff report begins as follows:
"For years, the City of Davis has contracted with local businesses within the city to supply sworn Police personnel to provide private security. Previously employees electing to participate in the extra duty employment program were paid at time and a half their normal rate."
Here's the key point however:
"Unfortunately, the rate the City charges the local businesses did not cover the cost of the program."
It goes on:
"Currently the City charges businesses $66.50 per hour to provide sworn Police services. The cost to the City has been higher than the priced charged due to the combined cost of salary and benefits at time and one-half of the employees providing the services. In the past two fiscal years the Police Department had to absorb approximately $23,000 to cover deficit this program has caused."
So this program actually cost the city a net $23,000 over two years to cover something that should have been cost neutral.

Again to the credit of the city in this case, they have plugged this hole.
"Staff met with Police and Finance staff and members of DPOA to try to come to an agreement that would stay within the fee currently charged and to fairly compensate the sworn Police personnel performing the work. An agreement was reached to pay all sworn Police personnel at step 5 of the Police Officer Salary with Longevity and Advanced Certification pay. This rate of pay should keep the program cost neutral to the City, without having to raise the current rate charged to the public."
The Vanguard believes that there are problems dozens of programs like this that should be cost neutral to the city, but are not for various reasons. This is a simple way for the city to save money--find these problems and fix the holes to make them as a close to cost neutral as possible. No one loses in these types of exchanges. In this case, the city will save an additional $11,500 per year. That might not be a huge amount by itself, but if they find a number of them, it will begin to add up. The Vanguard applauds the city for spotting this problem and fixing it.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting