Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Not To Discuss Money

The North Bay Village 2013 Budget is set and approved.  This of course happened last month and one of the remarkable aspects of it was a detailed and thorough examination of a new item to support the International Baccalaureate program at Treasure Island Elementary.  

It was truly a highlight to see the budget implications carefully and meticulously considered before passage.  There were no histrionics, little misbehavior except for some outbursts by a bitter old panhandler who objects to everything.  It passed as I believed it should have but not without serious questions and risk evaluations being brought out.  Resident Max Crown deserves special recognition for his detailed work on this issue.  

During the course of the discussion, the police budget was presumed to be untouchable.  Yet it represents our largest expenditure and at all times, the question of value must be discussed.  

On October 9, the Police Department submitted an annual request for disbursements from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, money provided to the city by the Department of Justice.  The amount was approximately $590,000.   Now this money does not come from our property taxes but rather from revenues raised from selling assets seized during drug raids.   

The list was filled with ordinary operational expenses not budgeted in the general fund - overtime, copier supplies, and the like.  Now why we are balancing operations with capital funds is a huge question and one that deserves an answer.  

Equally, what deserves an answer is why these things were chosen rather than Community Policing, Outreach to the Elderly, the PAAL program, CCTV and a myriad of crime prevention possibilities.  

When questioned, Chief Daniels replied that he wants to keep the response time quick.  He was also unable to name the department's goals for 2013 nor could he provide reliable crime statistics.   In other words, he was unprepared.  

It's the Chief's job to be able to express the value of his fiscal requests in terms of value to the residents.  The goals of the Police Department should be foremost in his mind, after all he set them.  Every manager at McDonalds knows his sales figures, our chief should know his crime stats.  

 The commission passed the request, mostly because they trust Chief Daniels and maybe the spend was good, but we deserve better and clearer information.  How is our money spent and what does it do.  It's not hard and going dramatic on simple questions is scary.   

The Police spend needs to be  carefully examined and decisions made soon.  

Kevin Vericker
October 11, 2012

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