The city and the public safety sectors this week will square off over proposals to cut personnel, reduce pay, or most likely, a combination of both, officials from both sides said.
The same process – finance committee meetings - is taking place among every other city agency, said city budget director Craig Freeman.
The final outcome will be determined once the city has met with each with department.
While both sides in the negotiations dislike the idea of cuts, the draconian 12 percent reductions suggested by the city across the board, including public safety, earlier this year wound up being too high.
However, that number was meant as a “starting point” Freeman said and was designed to give the city flexibility in determining cuts because monthly revenue collections dipped as much as 11 percent at one point.
May collections were the first in 15 months there was growth, Freeman said. For the year, the city is about 8 percent below last year overall.
“Basically our revenues are rolled back three years,” he said.
City revenues for the last fiscal year are $17.4 million short of projections.
Fire and police were spared some cuts due to passage of Maps 3, which activated a use tax – an additional source of revenue. It prevented the loss of 37 police officers, said City Manager Jim Couch.
The police and fire unions had been very vocal in opposing passage of MAPS 3 late last year.
But as budget cuts loom, the Fraternal Order of Police leadership plans to try to eliminate cuts to the extent possible, said Gil Hensley, its president.
A city official earlier this spring suggested that police officers make $100,000 a year, a contention the police union says wildly misrepresents most officers’ compensation.
“That’s simply not true,” said Gil Hensley, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “There are only a few people at the top who make that.”
Hensley indicated he was offended at the implication all officers make $100,000 annually.
In early May, City manager Jim Couch suggested two budget options to the City Council several weeks ago. One included a budget cut of 2.7 percent for police department plus a nominal number of layoffs, primarily non-uniform personnel. The second included about 100 layoffs, divided about equally between uniform and non uniform personnel and no pay or benefit cuts.
City budget director Craig Freeman said the average uniformed police officer earns $80,000 yearly in cash compensation, another $10,000 in health benefits and about 13 percent of salary in pension benefits.
He said he arrived at the $80,000 figure by taking the total amount paid in salary divided by the number of officers.
FOP’s president Hensley said the number is skewed by a handful of high ranking officers, while the bulk of police make much less.
A review of the police pay matrix (all figures are cash compensation only) shows:
A rookie starts at $39,212 in year one. A major earns up to $102,700 yearly.
The department has a fairly significant number of high ranking officers, the matrix shows.
Hensley noted police also share the expense of pensions and health benefits with the city. Police collect no Social Security benefits at retirement. Regarding health insurance, the city is self-insured, so it pays no actual premiums – it only pays claims.
He also said so far the city has paid little attention to the FOP’s input on budget cuts, but the organization intends to have a seat at the table regardless.
Hensley said it is important to note that officers risk their lives every day they go to work.
Freeman said the Oklahoma City police pay is a little below police pay in comparable cities.
The City Council will consider the proposed budget options over the next several weeks. It is scheduled to approve and adopt the 2011 budget at its June 15 session.