V.I. Police Department overtime costs are projected to be up dramatically – $2.8 million or 24 percent – from last year, Police Commissioner Delroy Richards told senators during budget hearings Wednesday.
Overtime has been a serious budgetary issue for years. Last year, Richards told senators that police would have to curtail some activities if extra funding for overtime was not appropriated. (See: Commissioner: Police Will Have to ‘Curtail’ Activities without Overtime Funding in Related Links below)
So far this year, through the end of May, the VIPD has spent $9.8 million in overtime and projects spending about $14.2 million by the end of the year, Richards said. At this time last year, the VIPD had spent $5 million on overtime and ultimately spent $11.8 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2015.
VIPD spent $11.4 million on overtime in FY14, so this year’s large jump is a change from the pattern of past years.
To put the overtime costs into context, the projected $14.2 million in overtime constitutes 28 percent of the VIPD’s entire $50 million budget for wages, salaries, pension and benefit contributions. It is 24 percent of the VIPD’s funding from the V.I. General Fund for FY16 of $59.9 million.
As in years past, part of the difficulty is a need for more officers, exacerbated by retirements and resignations. Richards said the department has seen 40 experienced officers leave in the last year, some who chose to retire and some who were required to leave the force by law because they reached the age of 60.
Several senators questioned how the amount of overtime was increasing so sharply.
"I’m simply saying I don’t see the time management there," Sen. Kenneth Gittens said. He suggested a proliferation of specialized task forces may help feed the problem.
He said the department is working to recruit officers and to control overtime internally.
"We are not going to sit by idly. We are pushing our officers very hard and we are accounting for our time," Richards said.
“We have disciplined officers and supervisors for abusing their overtime,” he continued. “I just recently demoted a supervisor because of abuse of overtime. So I am saying we are moving forward and we will continue to aggressively pursue the elements in this territory by whatever means necessary."
The VIPD is asking for local funding of $68.7 million for FY17. This includes a $63 million agency budget from the General Fund and $1.8 million in miscellaneous appropriations, along with an array of smaller appropriations from casino and tourism taxes. That funding includes $52.1 million for wages, salaries and benefits.
No votes were taken during the information gathering hearing. Present were Sens. Clifford Graham, Marvin Blyden, Myron Jackson, Tregenza Roach, Kurt Vialet, Sammuel Sanes. Sen. Positive Nelson was absent. Gittens, who is not a committee member, also attended the hearing.