DeKalb County’s police chief says he can live with a proposed budget that is $1.29 million less than the department spent in 2011.
“It’s really not going to hurt me too bad,” DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien said. “I can make it work, but it’s not the ideal situation.”
The budget for the police department proposed by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is $105 million, a 1.77 percent decrease from last year’s budget.
Ellis has proposed a county budget of $547.3 million, which is 1.2 percent higher than last year’s budget.
O’Brien said if the police department’s budget is not increased above the proposed budget, the department will not be able to fill current vacancies.
According to the police department’s latest numbers, there are 125 vacancies.
“My priority is really to have funding to fill a majority of those positions,” O’Brien said. “But I understand the big picture as well.
“If I could have at least half, that would be good,” O’Brien said.
The county’s Board of Commissioners, which will adopt a budget on Feb. 28, has asked all department heads to consider the effects of cuts of 5 to 10 percent.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think they’re going to cut me any more,” O’Brien said.
If the department is required to cut 5 percent from its budget, the eliminated $5.27 million could force the department to lay off 56 fulltime positions. A 10 percent cut would reduce the positions by 156.
A report presented to the Board of Commissioner’s finance committee on Feb. 16 stated that “a budget of any funding lower than $105 million however will have major implications in 2012 and the future.
“These impacts are mainly relating to staffing needs for the safety and well-being of DeKalb County citizens, and visitors, as well as being able to provide supplies required to carry out and support these duties,” the report stated. “These recommendations must be looked at in their totality rather than simply numeric reductions.”
The report also stated that employee morale would have to be addressed for the remaining employees impacted by reductions in the department.
In the proposed budget, there would be no job cuts, O’Brien said.