Editor’s note: This story is the sixth in a series of budget-related stories The Transcript will release over the next several weeks as the city nears its budget deadline. Each story deals with budget requirements, functions, and major requirements of specific city departments. The transcript shared the same questions with each department to get a comparable view of each department’s needs.
This week the Norman Police Department answered The Transcript’s questions, from why the budget increased this year to key requirements for the area of local government operations.
The staff will start working on the proposed budget in September and prioritize the needs of each department through meetings with other members of the Town Hall and the Norman City Council.
In The Transcript’s coverage, a dividing line emerged between departments that find a wide range of grants to supplement their budget, like Public Safety and Parks and Recreation, and departments like the Town Clerk and Town Court, which don’t have that luxury.
The NPD receives grants for various programs and part of the voter-approved PSST (Public Safety Sales Tax) fund.
Of all the departments in the city, the NPD’s budget was the most controversial and debated last year.
In June 2020, the Norman City Council changed the NPD’s budget to divert $ 865,000 of a proposed budget increase from the police into community programs and a city inspector. The council confirmed its decision this spring.
The NPD budget has continued to hold public discussions this year as the city receives feedback on its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 22. As recently as Tuesday evening, council meetings attracted lawyers and Norman residents to share their contributions to the city’s police funding.
Norman Police Department Q. How much has your department requested this year and how much more or less are you looking for than in the previous fiscal year?
The police department is funded primarily from the city’s general and PSST funds.
The proposed total funding for the Police Department from all funds for Fiscal Year 22 is $ 32,241,169. This is an increase of $ 1,087,362 (+ 3.5%) over the fiscal year 21 budget.
Question: What is the reason for the budget amount you want? What are the most critical needs and top expenditures in your department this fiscal year? What about the next five years?
The vast majority of each department’s budget is spent on staff costs. These costs are the result of contractual agreements that the city has made with employees and are in no way determined or controlled by the individual departments.
Due to the complex services that we provide to our community around the clock, the police have most of the staff in the city departments. In addition to the recognized elements of patrol, public relations, school officials (SROs), investigations and traffic, the department also offers communication services for the entire city as well as the necessary functions for animal welfare and park services.
Question: How much of your budget is supplemented by grants on average?
Our agency is constantly looking for additional sources of funding to provide solutions for specific needs.
Regular grants that are requested annually include OHSO, JAG, and COPS programs. These funding sources provide the necessary resources for road safety education and enforcement (seat belts, DUI) and other specific elements such as victim advocacy programs. Most of these grants are reported separately in the Special Grants Fund.
We currently have an outstanding grant that will provide partial funding for the four remaining PSST SRO positions for three years if voters approve a public safety VAT rate increase to adequately fund the additional staff and services.
Grant funding is not included in our budget figures given above due to its non-guaranteed nature.
Question: How much of this will your budget be, and is it higher or lower than last year?
Public safety sales tax:
FYE21 $ 8,552,062
FYE22 $ 8,681,343
A significant portion of these costs ($ 2,369,342 in FY 2021-2022) are related to debt service payments for capital improvement projects that benefit citywide public safety services, such as: B. our new radio communication system and the future emergency / communication center.
No change. The proposed $ 30,505 is required by law and must be allocated for training and employee development activities.
Seizures and Refunds:
The proposed budget for FY22 does not include funds from this source. Our agency’s needs, traditionally funded from these resources, have continued to be largely met through the search for other limited urban resources.
Question: In addition to grants, what steps does your department take to generate savings on ongoing or completed projects?
The police department has continued to evaluate and use technological advances to improve customer service, improve community safety and reduce costs.
We continue to seek out retention options that are expensive and time consuming to hire and train. In addition, we are constantly evaluating methods for managing employee overtime in order to reduce this if possible.
Question: What about your department and the city budget that you want the public to know? The police department offers city-wide emergency measures and 911 services around the clock every day of the year. In addition to direct law enforcement services, the department’s services and staff include all emergency communications, maintenance and operation of the citywide radio system, animal welfare services, animal shelters and the enforcement of parking services.
Part of our overtime costs result from supporting special events in the community, traffic monitoring, and educational and school activities. Part of these costs are reimbursed to the City of Norman by the University of Oklahoma, Norman Public Schools, and various state and federal grants.
Our agency is committed to providing the best possible law enforcement services to the citizens and guests of the City of Norman. We will continue to improve and update our processes to drive community engagement, improved services, and more security for everyone.