To: The Editor
Subject: Carl Wagenfohr's lead article, Feb. 22; Budget task force looks at service cutbacks
This issue of city and county budgets is interesting. In reading your article my attention was grabbed by the statements of the department heads who said they would lose personnel if cutbacks were ordered.
According to the on line City of Clearwater expense items, the public safety section of the budget is something less than 50 percent of the budget every year. So, in 2003 when the budget was $315 million that portion of the budget was $151 million. And this year it should be near $190 million or a 30 percent increase between the 2003/04 budget and the 2006/07 budget.
I do not know about you, but I hardly ever received more than a 3 percent increase in salary during my working years. These guys are averaging about 6 percent a year. A pretty good gig if you can get it.
The other part of the Police Chief's statement was that 5 percent of his budget equates to $1.78 million. That means that the police budget is about $36 million. In numbers 5 percent equals 29 personnel. So the force size is about 580 total employees. The population of Clearwater is about 110,000 people. I did not get the last two year's numbers, but adding a couple of thousand people to the 2005 estimate should be somewhere close.
Police per 100,000 residents is a statistic that is kept by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Jacksonville, Florida, for example is the largest geographical city in the U.S. It has 208 full time sworn personnel per 100,000 people. Jacksonville has a river and is a sea port. So, somehow the city of Clearwater seems to need twice as many personnel as a large metropolitan city. Go figure.
Now it is true that the city should need some $10 million every year of additional revenue monies to offset the rise in salaries, insurance and the like. So, the city of Clearwater has said that it has needed $80 million more over the last five years, $30 million above expected growth amounts.
Just a citizen's observation.