As we said a week or so back (link), each department of this city has made some very substantial budget reduction offers. Community Services, the department that takes care of a lot of the things people seem to care about, has offered to practically do itself in altogether. With proposed cuts that would reduce its entire staff to one uninsured part time individual.
Planning and Community Preservation, the Library, Fire and Paramedics, along with Public Works, also face the possibility of some very serious and possibly debilitating cuts. But as we saw, the SMPD's proposed percentage reductions are minuscule when compared to what is being offered by other departments. Here is how that all breaks down according to the May 26 Agenda Report.
Not a whole lot, right? Especially when you stop to consider that $4 million has been allocated to this one department. Additionally, what is not discussed in this Agenda Report is the reasoning behind that total lack of sacrifice. Why the budget of the SMPD should remain nearly intact while those of other departments would be significantly slashed, and in certain instances at draconian levels, is rather mysterious in my opinion.
And they will even hire any of our cops capable of meeting their physical and mental requirements. What percentage of our current officers would meet those requirements is anybody's guess.
Which leaves the other possibility, which is pulling about half a million dollars out of the SMPD budget, or around 12.5% of what they're receiving now. It is not the largest proposed reduction percentage on the agenda for tomorrow's discussions, but by doing so a considerable amount of the financial pressure being put on other departments would dissipate, with many popular services being preserved.
Here is a series of three charts prepared by Transparent California's Robert Fellner. In my opinion they create a strong argument, one that justifies cutting the SMPD's budget by that 12.5%. In the process saving other departments and preserving that 6% UUT the citizens of Sierra Madre voted for twice.
This first graph compares Sierra Madre's traditionally low crime rate with that of neighboring cities.
This second one stacks up the percentage of the General Fund the SMPD receives versus that of those same four neighboring cities.
When you combine these two charts you get this revealing and remarkable picture:
Obviously that 12.5% Police Department budget reduction of $500,000 could work. The numbers show that this can be safely accomplished, and in the process saving many of the things this community values.
Namely the Library, Community Services, Paramedics, Fire Department, that 6% UUT you voted for twice and, by taking away the financial arguments for its outsourcing, the Sierra Madre Police Department itself.