YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council spent over two hours Tuesday evening looking for ways to cut the budget of the police department.
What they kept coming back to was cutting overtime and asking for $100,000 to be cut.
Police Chief Robin Lees and finance director Kyle Miasek presented council with a police department budget that called for a 1.6% increase. It included eight additional patrol officers by year’s end.
“Taking the current count from 99 patrol officers to 107,” Miasek said.
Council, however, wanted to talk overtime, which went 28% over budget last year at $1.8 million.
Coucilmembers Anita Davis and Basia Adamczak suggested this year’s overtime budget be cut by $100,000, while Samantha Turner hinted at a cut of $250,000.
“We’ve gotta reduce this number and to move forward I think that we all need to see a hard plan of how we’re not going to get here because I don’t know about anybody else but I’m being chewed on about this,” Turner said.
Lees said a lot of the overtime was from traffic cameras — which have been eliminated — and with additional hires over time, should fall this year.
He also said if there’s less overtime money there will be fewer services.
Adamczak questioned the fairness of cutting the fire department’s budget but not the police department’s.
“Should there not be an equivalent to make it equitable and fair across both safety forces?” Adamczak said.
Adamczak asked that if the fire department has to close or brownout stations to save on overtime, shouldn’t the police department have to do something too?
“I essentially brownout beat cars almost on a daily basis. We’re set up to have 13 beats out there and I can tell you right now, frequently, we pull at least two cars that don’t go out on a regular basis,” Lees said.
Given that Youngstown has dealt with three triple homicides in the past 15 months, council also wants more money budgeted for the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence program — commonly called CIRV — though no dollar amount or where the money will come from was decided.
It was also announced that applications are being taken for a new coordinator for downtown events and citywide special projects. Applications will be taken until Feb. 25.