RYE, N.Y. -- The Rye Police Department's expenses could rise slightly next year as it deals with a shortage of staff and a retiring commissioner.
The proposed police budget for 2014 is $9,179,015, a $382,244 increase, or 4.35 percent, over the total projected expenses for 2013. Salary and benefits are expected to increase about $330,000. The forces behind the other increases are changes in service contracts and repair or replacement of systems.
"We've got this fairly recent phenomena of systems that are no longer supported and needed to be upgraded," said Commissioner William Connors. Among those systems is a new reverse 911 program that will be implemented.
Revenues from parking tickets are expected to increase after taking a dip this year. Connors said that of the department's two parking enforcement officers, one was out with a serious injury for more than 50 days. The other is often called away in the afternoons to performing crossing guard duty.
One of the things that the department has had to deal with is shortage of staff. In 2009 the headcount was reduced from 40 to 35, where it currently stands. Next year the department is budgeted for 36 officers.
"Right now i have six people that are on injury leave or sick leave or on restricted duty," said Connors. There is another officer currently in the academy, who will be finished training around April. This presents a problem with staffing when officers are sick, on vacation, training or away on personal leave.
"We have turned out a number of tours in the last few months where I need two, sometimes three tours of overtime just to open the doors. So that staffing level is one significant component of it that's really unpredictable," Connors said.
Overtime pay is expected to decrease from $592,000 to $525,000. Beyond staffing problems, another major driver of overtime has been the number of investigations conducted over the past year. Two residents died of heroin overdoses, and there was other indications of drug activity.
"Frankly when we had some indications of drug activity, and in some cases, selling to 16 and 17-year-old kids, we throw a lot of attention to that," he said. There were also some burglaries and other events that required a lot of overtime to investigate.
Connors announced in September that he will be retiring in January, and the city is currently searching for a replacement. The City Council this week authorized $40,000 to hire a search firm to gather community input and develop a candidate profile , with the aim of filling the position by April or May.
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