At a budget workshop on Thursday, Oct. 11, Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi asked for an additional $100,000 to be added to the police department budget to make up for overtime.
Photo by Marcy Velte.
continued “I understand the pressures you’re facing, but I still wonder if there isn’t a management approach that can be more successful,” he said.
Corsi said overtime is scrutinized very closely and he feels the department is doing a good job at controlling those expenses. Clarkson said they can continue to discuss the matter, but restoring the money would equal another 1 percent tax hike. The tentative budget calls for an 8 percent tax hike.
Councilman Kyle Kotary said he feels the issue needs to be addressed or it would continue to be a problem for years to come. He questioned if reducing service levels would be more preferable to residents than raising taxes.
Corsi said to offset costs, the department has been billing for all paid details. He said for the past several years overtime has stayed around 10,000 hours no matter the adjustments, and he is unsure why.
Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn asked if the overtime “hierarchy” could be changed so some less important instances were no longer eligible to be deemed as overtime. Corsi said it could, but that may cause calls to go unanswered until the next shift of officers arrived.
“I’m still not in a place yet, chief, where I would say we have to find another $100,000 here,” said Clarkson. “I’m at a place where I’d rather find a way we don’t have to have that. I recognize that it’s a tough area in your budget and one you rely on for emergencies, but as we look at the overall overtime expenditures most are not for emergency type situations, so perhaps some more changes in practice could be more effective.”
Kotary said he did not want to ignore the issue because the money would eventually be spent by the end of the year anyway.
Town Board members will compare overtime analyses within the department — including contractual obligations — and between departments over the past several years to come to a decision about police overtime. The topic will be discussed again at a budget workshop set for Oct. 29.