Sheriff David Clarke, having made a scandalous mess out of his jail operations, now wants to drop a fiscal bomb on the rest of his department. Clarke said yesterday the State Patrol should take over freeways patrols so 50 sworn deputies can police parks. He also said the state should kick in an extra $700,000 to fund a Park Patrol.
OK, let's figure. Clarke gets his $700,000 to fund officers. In the 2006 adopted county budget, the Sheriff's Department cut 19 deputies for a savings of $1,008,444 not including benefits, which works out to an overage of $53,076 per deputy. With fringe benefits figured at 61% of salary (the figure used in George Lightbourn's study of county finances), that average cost per deputy jumps to $85,452.
That new $700,000 will buy 8.2 of the 50 deputies Clarke wants patrolling parks.
What does the Sheriff's Department stand to lose under Clarke's plan? Well, certainly it would no longer be able to use the $2.1 million in county trunk maintenance revenue it uses to balance the freeway patrol budget, the $575,000 it gets from the state for assisting motorists during rush hour, or the $1.1 million it gets in state revenue for patrolling the freeways, not to mention the $2.4 million in citation revenue that is offsetting freeway patrol costs this year.
So, to sum up: Clarke would trade more than $6 million in revenue for $700,000 in revenue, while still incurring $4.3 million in personnel costs for the 50 deputies. Even if those deputies write a lot more tickets -- let's say the Sheriff's Department can replace lost freeway citation revenue dollar for dollar with park citation revenue, although given the seasonal nature of parks, that is extremely unlikely -- Clarke will have about $3.1 million in revenue to pay for $4.3 million in personnel costs, leaving a shortfall of $1.2 million. Hmmm.
Can anyone say "property tax increase"?
(This assumes a year-round takeover of State Patrol-operated freeway patrols and Sheriff's Department Park Patrol. Pro-rating for seasonal efforts also is possible, but the notion of asking the State Patrol to train troopers and staff up to take over Milwaukee County freeway patrols for a few months each year seems even less feasible than the full trade-off. )