Police budget said lower

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The proposed budget for Lewisburg's Police Department in the fiscal year starting July 1 is about $4,000 less than last year, "not counting personnel costs," the police chief reported last week.

Personnel, however, is almost always the largest part of any budget, Chief Chuck Forbis agreed during a Friday interview. He presented a similar report to the Police Advisory Board during its monthly meeting on Thursday.

So, capital and operating costs are dropping to about $34,000 while personnel continues to be about $2 million, the chief said.

City Treasurer Connie Edde says the city's entire budget may be expected to total approximately $10.5 million, down some $1.5 million since the construction of a building in Lewisburg Business Park where the structure was constructed on a speculative basis that it would help attract a business to employ area residents.

The Council held a second budget workshop about the time this edition was on the press Tuesday.

Even with personnel, capital and operating costs, Forbis reports that his next budget will be even larger, although the funds won't come from the city's general fund. There's a dedicated revenue stream from city court costs that's for the purchase of vehicles.

"Two vehicles are being requested from the vehicle fund," Forbis reported while working on an old Ford Crown Victoria, the classic police patrol car in America.

He was removing the light bar, radios and a variety of other police equipment from the worn out cruiser.

"We normally get three" new cars each year, Forbis said.

The Police Advisory Board unanimously endorsed the chief's request for a $2,343,000 budget, plus two new cars, Forbis said.

Removal of police equipment from the patrol cars might ordinarily cost $500 per car, he said. Forbis has stripped four cars in recent months.

During a budget workshop with the City Council last month, the "big ticket item" that's new for the police budget was revealed by Forbis as a $70,000 records management system that's compatible with laptop computers to be mounted in the middle of the front seat of patrol cars.

"It will work along side that," Forbis said of the records management system's compatibility with the mobile units. "It will expand their use."

Cruiser-based computers are not new. They've been revealed as maintaining records of communications between officers and their dispatchers who would be freed for other tasks. With the laptops, officers can check records at the scene of a traffic stop without a radio call to their base.

"It'll allow us to keep all our reports electronically and do research on incidents," Forbis said.

Beyond statistical reports, the records keeping system will allow insights on police productivity, the chief explained.