Manteca in the past several years under City Manager Tim Ogden has dropped a historic unwritten policy of not aggressively filling police positions as quickly as possible when they are either created by resignations or new positions being authorized.
As a result overtime costs for police are expected to drop significantly in the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1 to continue a trend started this year. The projected overtime savings of $421,000 next fiscal year will reflect a 30.7 percent decrease from overtime expected to reach $1.210 million when the current year ends on June 30. The $1.2 million number was 3.8 percent lower than in the 2017-2018 fiscal year when overtime costs spiked 24 percent going from $1 million the previous year to $1.258 million.
The biggest change has been staffing. When overtime ballooned 24 percent the department had 65 sworn officers. Currently they are 74 officers with a 75th targeted to be hired in the proposed $46 million general fund spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.
The past three years Manteca has hired nine officers — the most positions ever added at any time in the city’s 101-year history. Police staffing is now above the pre-recession level of 72 officers.
A chunk of police overtime that deals with court appearances on an officer’s scheduled day off, involves a major crime that is taking place at an end of a shift that requires the investigating officer to stay on, or murder or similar event that recalls calling in detectives is unavoidable. Staffing issues triggered by illness, workmen’s compensation issues, and even vacations are difficult to avoid without adequate staffing.
To illustrate how costly overtime can be, in 2017-2018 when the city paid out $1,258,412 to police personnel the overall salaries of the 65 officers came to $8,616,314. Overtime paid was the equivalent of 14 percent of the salaries paid. Overtime dropped to 12.9 percent of the overall salaries paid for the current fiscal year. In the fiscal year starting July 1 salaries are budgeted at $10,346,901 while overtime is expected to come in at $839,000 or the equivalent of 8 percent of the regular salaries.
The savings of $350,000 in projected overtime will cover a chunk of the $994,000 in increased salaries that reflect an additional officer, a full year salary of two positions that were added this year more than six months into the budget as well as step increases and wage hikes for current officers.
Tighter management of overtime and other spending is essential as Manteca works to stay ahead of the pension avalanche that is pounding cities throughout California with increased contributions in a bid to come up with system shortfalls.
The cost to the city for police officer retirement just through the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is going up by $640,000 or 21.8 percent in the next year to $3.4 million. That followed back-to-back annual increases of 15.5 percent and 15.9 percent. Back in 2015-2016 the city was paying $1.7 million as its share of contributions to police CalPERS funding or half of the $3.4 million anticipated for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. If salaries had gone up that high of a percentage, the city would be paying $14.4 million for police salaries next fiscal year instead of $10.3 million based on 2015-2016 salaries being at $7.2 million
The city now projects when retirements are expected to occur and starts the recruitment process earlier even sometimes while the officer that is stepping down is still on the job. That’s because the posting of the job, application period, screening and then background checks and oral boards for those that make the initial cuts a time consuming process.
Even though they weren’t as aggressive five or so years ago as they are today with the hiring process, it was still a far cry from the 1990s and 2000s when the council would authorize positions and department heads were instructed by previous city managers to wait until almost the end of the fiscal year to start filling the positions in a bid to save money.
The city having a more robust fulltime staffing stopped fire department overtime from ballooning after the 2016-2017 year when it jumped 516.6 percent to $366,590 from $59,450 the previous year. Overtime dropped down 5.9 percent to $388,249 and then went up 54.4 percent to 599,435 for the current fiscal year. It is anticipated to decline to $560,000 for a drop of 6.6 percent in the upcoming fiscal year.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org