Mpls Police Overtime Over-Budget, but Near Decade Low
The Minneapolis Police Department was over-budget on overtime in 2012 for the third time in the past four years, but spent less money on overtime than in all but one year in the past decade, according to recently compiled figures obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
"The citizens of Minneapolis expect us to be prudent with city funds," explained newly-appointed Assistant Police Chief Matt Clark.
The department's annual over-spending on overtime had become chronic, reaching a peak of more than $7 million in 2006.
But stricter monitoring and accountability that had been demanded by a frustrated City Council resulted in a dramatic about-face in 2011, with the police department's overtime budget coming in $2.4 million under budget.
In 2012, overtime was 5.5 percent over-budget, rising to a total of $3.1 million, a 12 percent increase from the $2.8 million spent in 2011, according to figures provided by the department.
Except for 2011, the department spent less money on overtime last year than in any year since 2003, when it also spent $3.1 million.
"We need to be transparent in our processes and what we do," Clark said in an interview Thursday at police headquarters. "If there's an increase (in overtime), we should be reporting what that is to the Council and why that occurred."
The department has not yet provided such a report to the Council. A citywide year-end financial review is planned for a Council committee in two weeks.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS requested the overtime figures Feb. 11 and on March 14 asked for an on-camera interview to explain the reasons behind last year's overtime spending.
But when asked Thursday what caused the 12 percent increase in 2012 overtime spending, Clark replied, "I don't have the specifics."
[UPDATED 03/22/2013 1:45 PM] Friday morning, the department's finance person, Robin McPherson, through a spokesperson, provided an explanation for the overage, citing the net decrease of 20 officers during 2012 and the "need to work overtime to offset" retirements.
"(W)ith our aging workforce we are very aware of the impact of attrition and, with the support from City Council, we have hired our first recruit class in 3 years in 2013," McPherson said.
The $3,151,504 in 2012 overtime "was incurred in most areas throughout the department," added McPherson, and said the 2013 overtime budget is set at $2.8 million, which would represent an decrease of approximately 11 percent from the amount spend on overtime in 2012.
Clark did say the 2012 overtime spending represented just four percent of the department's payroll, half that of some comparably-sized cities across the country that the department studied.
The department's total $135.4 million budget, Clark pointed out, ended 2012 balanced, meaning the extra overtime expenditures were covered with other department funds.
Minneapolis council member Betsy Hodges, who chairs the Ways & Means/Budget committee, had been among the council members who, in the past, took the department to task and began requiring monthly police spending reports and a dedicated person to watch the department's budget.
"I recall many times asking some very pointed questions about the police department budget because that's taxpayer money," Hodges said Thursday.
"For me, I think the real story is that the overtime amount is in the $2 and $3 million range as opposed to the $6 and $7 million range that it was a few years ago," said Hodges.