Tredyffrin Township's Board of Supervisors are scheduled to begin hearing from the public on a proposed 2013 township budget Monday night.
The recommended budget draft from the township's staff would include a 5.5% tax increase.
The largest part of the township's annual budget is the police department. The department currently has fewer than 40 uniformed police officers and command staff but has 47 positions for uniformed officers.
About one quarter of the rank and file officers attended the last Board of Supervisors meeting in November when the Board of Supervisors voted on a preliminary budget in order to legally advertise Monday's budget discussion. Because it was merely a procedural vote, no members of the public got up to comment.
That is expected to change Monday when the public is encouraged to offer comments on the budget that must be approved before January first.
The Preliminary Budget discussion is item 5F on the agenda for the meeting which can be found here on the Township's website.
Poice officers are expected to attend because before the supervisors begin a public discussion of the budget, they will formally receive a consultant's study on the staffing needs of the department. The real concern of many rank and file officers is found in two paragraphs of the 92 page report which dissects department response times and how well the department manage the number of calls from the public.
The recommendations provided here seek to streamline operations and identify efficiencies in order to reduce costs and still maintain the high level of police service now enjoyed in Tredyffrin Township. Several factors are currently driving overall staffing levels in this department: 1) the overall high level of service expected by the community; 2) normal staffing per shift of four patrol officers plus one supervisor (as opposed to the 3 + 1 “minimum manning” level); and 3) the 10-hour shift schedule. If any of these factors can be altered significantly, it is possible that the department would find it easier to meet its patrol obligations and not have to continue hiring until it reached its “authorized” staffing level of 47 uniformed officers.
The department should hire incrementally and carefully analyze the impact that each hire has upon productivity (and overtime rates), in order to make a compelling argument to the Township for additional manpower. Retirements should be anticipated; therefore, the department must carefully plan for its future hiring and field training needs. The department must continue to maintain an open line of communication with Township officials. Both the superintendent and the Township officials that ICMA met with demonstrate the ability and inclination to work collaboratively to understand the current and future challenges of this department, and to make necessary decisions to improve service delivery and efficiency.
The full report is attached to this article. But what it all comes down to is a concern by several officers who have spoken to Patch on background not for attribution is that this report could be used as an argument for not filling the vacant positions on the department. That would be one way to save money in the 2013 Tredyffrin Township budget.
One officer who spoke to Patch on background says there is a real concern for officer safety in the field. Current staffing levels already have manpower stretched thin. While the number of current officers may appear to work "on paper" in teh event of a serious incident being short staffed can present a real danger to the safety of officers who may be available to respond to serious, life-threatening emergencies or other dangerous situations. The concern among many officers is that in the event of a special circumstances that may pull one or more officers off of routine patrol duties there is simply not enough manpower to deal with unforseen emergencies.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak to those and other concerns both pro and con about the proposed budget. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Tredyffrin Township Municipal Building.