The Killeen City Council discussed proposed cuts to the 2018 city police and fire department budgets during a special workshop Tuesday as part of the council’s lead-up to approving the final budget in September.
On Aug. 1, City Manager Ron Olson presented the first half of the city’s proposed general fund budget, which includes city administration, parks and recreation and public safety departments.
The city’s total budget includes the general fund, enterprise — or moneymaking — funds, and debt service and internal service funds.
Continuing the presentation Tuesday, interim police Chief Margaret Young highlighted a proposed cut of 20 vacant commissioned officer positions in the police department as well as three vacant noncommissioned positions and two vacant animal services positions.
The city’s proposed total budget is $180.49 million. The city’s proposed general fund budget is $82.13 million.
The police cuts come amid a planned reorganization initiative that would cut the department’s divisions from five to four and redirect more officers to the city’s patrol division while streamlining the force’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Young, who will be succeeded by newly minted police Chief Charles “Chuck” Kimble on Sept. 1, said the reorganization efforts will provide more officers to patrol as well as decrease response times and reduce the number of emergency calls per officer on duty.
However, the move could have what Young called a “slowing impact” on criminal investigations in the city, with the 20 vacancy cuts limiting the department’s ability to expand over the next fiscal year. With the cuts, the department will still have an additional 12 officer vacancies.
“It’s my hope and intention to fill those 12 vacancies this year,” Olson said.
Further budget cuts in the department would cap overtime allocations at $1 million for fiscal year 2018 — about $200,000 lower than the department’s average annual needs, Young said.
In the fire department, fire Chief Brian Brank presented a budget to the council that keeps in place the controversial “tiered-overtime reduction plan” that caused resident outcries earlier this year. The plan would save around $390,000 of overtime expenses from the fiscal year 2017 budget and could prevent up to 96 hours of overtime per day.
Despite resident worries, Brank said the move did not alter the department’s service ability or jeopardize its fire safety insurance rating.
“These units (affected by the plan) are still functional, and they can still do the job with this plan in place,” Brank said. “I don’t believe it’s controversial, and it’s fiscally responsible.”
The department’s overall cuts would lower its 2018 budget to $20.79 million — or more than $2 million less than budgeted in fiscal year 2017.
During the workshop, the council was also briefed on the city’s parks and recreation, finance, and planning and development departments as well as the solid waste and water-sewer funds.