Mayor Harvey Persons noted the council cut its budget 9 percent last year “and we’re looking at a potential 5 percent this year.”
“It’s a tough economic time and we’re faced with making tough decisions,” he said. “We’re not going to ask that we put our public safety people in harm’s way and not give them the necessary equipment to get the job done.”
City Manager Bill Osborne said department employee turnover and timing of filling positions will be one way the police department will be able to trim its budget for the fiscal year.
“Based on experience, as big as our department is, there will be turnover and there will be loss of work days during the year,” said Osborne. “This year will be tight and we may have to exercise some control over when we fill positions.”
Other expected cuts in the police department include reducing the amount for uniform allowances, making signification reductions in overtime and cutting non-essential training and education.
The department makes up around 40 percent of the city’s budget.
According to Douglasville Police Chief Chris Womack, “Currently we have eight people working on a graduate level that drug funds have paid for.”
However, there are certain areas in which drug funds cannot be used and the assumption cannot be made as to how much in drug funds will be available, explained Womack.
“Drug funds are coming in less than previously,” said the police chief. “There were close to $5 million before I took over. Drug funds coming in are closer to $3 million.”
The police department is also is reducing operating and office supplies by using current inventory and cutting overtime in special operations.
New police vehicles have been cut from the budget as well.
“Drug funds have been relied on heavily to keep police officers from walking,” said Womack.
He noted that in the past three years, the city has spent just over $100,000 for vehicles, whereas drug funds has spent over $1 million during the same time frame.
Resource officers within the city’s schools will remain intact, because their salaries are reimbursed by the Douglas County Board of Education, Womack explained.
Also remaining intact will be the K-9 unit budget., which is made up of five dogs.
The mayor noted, “Dogs are a necessary part of law enforcement.”