Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sheriff Clarke, do the math

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. )


Anonymous said...

OK - Explain to me why the county continues to keep properties such as the proposed county park area at 76th and County Line Road. The reasoning is that they would like to develop it as a county park, but if this hasn't been done in over a decade, what's the likelihood it will EVER happen? What if they SOLD land like this and got it on the tax rolls? Hmmmmm.....

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time..........there were more freeway deputies, and they didn't cost the taxpayers a dime. The entire Patrol bureau was funded by citation revenue. Because of the greater presence and larger number of tickets, freeway speeds were down, and there were fewer crashes than today. Also, with a larger number of deputies inplace, response times to accidents were a lot quicker than they are now.(see county board audit of Jan, 06) Think about that when you have an accident on the freeway, and are waiting for help. Especially when you realize that Clarke's removing deputies from the freeway ultimately ended up COSTING the taxpayers more money for less service. Perhaps this is what he means when he says "do more with less".

Also, BC (before Clarke) there was a Parks unit, and a Transit unit. He disbanded these, and now when there is trouble in the parks and on the buses, he wants to appear that he will solve the problem by putting deputies there. Maybe we would have been better off if they would have not been removed in the first place.

We can solve this problem by removing David Clarke on Tue. Sept. 12

Anonymous said...

I'm in favor of the State Patrol patroling Milwaukee County freeways. Let's free up some of the Deputy Sheriffs to actually do some "police work". Let them patrol the lakefront during the summer months. Couldn't they do some patroling in the inner city during the summer months? Are they afraid of going into the inner city?

As far as deputy response time, this is a laugh. About 10 years ago, my car broke down on the freeway in 25 degree weather and I sat there for 2 1/2 hours before some kind motorist stopped to see what was the matter and let me use his cell phone. I then called the Sheriff's Dept. and a squad finally showed up and ordered a tow. By that time I was half frozen. So please don't tell me what a great job the deputies are doing on the freeway. One can travel from one end of Milwaukee County to another and never, ever see a Sheriff's Dept. squad.

Anonymous said...

The patroling of the inner city is the primary responsibility of the Milwaukee POLICE Department. The COUNTY Sheriff's Department is by statute, charged with the law enforcement functions of the freeway.

And how do you figure that what the deputies do on the freeway is not "police" work? Arrests are made by freeway deputies EVERY DAY. Accidents, thefts, sexual assaults, kidnapings, etc etc etc are also respondsed to and investigated on a regular basis. What is your definition of "police work" if what is already being done by the men and women of the sheriff's department around the clock is not?

You, as a taxpayer, can have your cake and eat it too. There is no reason other than the meglomaniacal mismanagment by Clarke, that the sheriff's department couldn't return to both an effective patrol of the freeways, AND the parks / buses. This was done in a cost effective / low tax levy manner BC. The sheriff's department can once again offer superior service to the taxpayers, as soon as Clarke is removed from office. Vote ABC on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
(Thats Anybody But Clarke)