Memo for fiscal year 2017, updated 2016-04-11

[Archived] Can you please provide a budget proposal outlining the use of contingent reserve funding set aside in the City Manager FY 2017 Proposed Budget for traffic enforcement initiatives?

The City Manager’s FY 2017 Proposed Budget includes a set aside of $500,000 for traffic enforcement and parking adjudication initiatives. The City Manager asked the Alexandria Police Department (APD) to provide recommendation for use of the contingent reserve funding for traffic enforcement. APD recommended adding two Motor Officers and one supervisory Sergeant to the current authorized staffing, raising the authorized staffing level of Motor Officers from nine to eleven, and supervisors from one to two. This recommendation is based upon the increasing citizen demands for enhanced levels of traffic enforcement in more areas of the City. Currently, the Motor Officer Unit has one Sergeant that acts as the sole supervisor for the entire 10 person unit. Adding two additional Motor Officers creates a span-of-control issue should there remain only one supervisor for the entire unit. Under the current span of control there are more duties than can be handled by the one existing Sergeant. A Sergeant is also a working supervisor who spends part of his or her time in the field.

Fiscal Impacts

Funding the addition of two Motor Officers and one Sergeant is possible using both FY 2016 Police Department projected budget savings and FY 2017 Proposed contingent reserve funding. The annual full-year operating cost would be $90,000 for each of the two Motor Officers and $105,000 for the Sergeant, for a total of $285,000. The one-time cost for uniforms and equipment, including motorcycles, would be $60,500 for each position, or $181,500 total. Staff recommends transferring $285,000 from contingent reserves to the APD budget in FY 2017 to fund the positions. Based on year-end expenditure projections, APD is expected to be able to purchase the one-time uniforms and equipment from savings in FY 2016. In addition to the $285,000 for the three positions, staff also recommends the transfer of another $115,000 of set aside funds to APD for overtime related to traffic enforcement (to be discussed later in this response). In summary, the overall recommendation is to transfer $400,000 of contingent reserve funding to the Police Department for traffic enforcement initiatives, and to use $181,500 of FY 2016 savings to purchase one-time expenditures related to the three new positions. The remaining $100,000 set aside in contingent reserves will cover re-establishing the Parking Adjudication Office and is recommended to remain in contingent until a detailed adjudication proposal is developed.

City staff acknowledges that additional resources to conduct traffic enforcement efforts provide some level of new revenue through traffic citations. However, revenue implications are not considered as part of this proposal due to the fact that APD’s mission and purpose is to legitimately provide a safe environment for the citizens, workers, and visitors of the City. Thus, the Police Department does not consider revenue implications as a factor in how to deliver services to the public. Ideally, enforcement and education efforts would result in fewer traffic citations issued as drivers increase their compliance with the law.

Implementation Considerations

Although the three recommended positions would be fully funded for the entire year, they would not be operational until spring 2017. This is due to timing of when Officers in the next recruit class can work Patrol independently, as well as time needed to train Motor Officers once transferred from Patrol. Only once the most recent Police Academy class becomes fully operational will the Patrol Unit have needed capacity to transfer additional Officers from Patrol to the Motor Unit. After Officers are transferred to the Motor Unit, they will require several months of training before being able to work as a fully operational Motor Officer. This means that the 2 new Motor Officers would not address traffic safety issues until after their training is complete in spring 2017.

In the interim, APD can use the $165,000 in overtime funding ($50,000 already included in the FY 2017 Proposed Budget and $115,000 added from contingent reserve funding) until the additional Motor Officers become operational. This funding would allow APD to begin developing and then assessing traffic safety programs. Programming would vary from public education campaigns to raise awareness to targeted enforcement at areas or times of high complaint. Officers can elect to sign up for overtime or not, meaning that there can be no guarantee of how many overtime hours will actually occur. Even so, the opportunity for overtime signals that traffic enforcement and safety efforts are high priority for both the Police Department and the City. Once the additional Motor Officers became operational, the Motor Unit could then use its increased staffing resources and expertise to continue developing and implementing effective traffic safety programs that provide lasting, global improvements across the City. Hence, the $115,000 of overtime funds is intended to be one-time transitional funding for FY 2017 only.

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