Police face layoffs

Sandusky police commanders believe a looming deficit could severely handcuff operations.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 31, 2013
City commissioners recently proposed whittling down Sandusky’s $1.1 million deficit by slashing funding levels in various departments.

Among the tentative cuts: a $70,000 cut to the police department, amounting to axing one full-time officer.

The police department employs 45 full-time officers today.

Outsiders might claim the proposed police reduction represents small potatoes when considering the $70,000 totals:    

• About 6 percent of the $1.1 million deficit.

• About 1.5 percent of the police department’s $4.7 million annual budget. But beyond the numbers, these proposed cuts carry major ramifications, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.

At this time, Orzech said he can’t slash expenses without shedding workers.

Consequences of police layoffs
 Reduction or elimination of part-time officers, often called reserves.
• Reduction or elimination of court, evidence and training officers.
• Elimination of two officers patrolling in one car.
• Elimination of narcotics unit, including officers scaling back on investigating drug complaints.
• Elimination of community liaison program, where officers visit area organizations to foster goodwill.
• Cuts in detective bureau.

Salaries, wages and health benefits account for close to 90 percent of the proposed police budget in 2014. Officials have already cut travel, training, supplies, materials and other expenses needed for police operations.

Dropping manpower levels below 45 would trigger a series of staffing setbacks.

Sandusky’s union contract stipulates all reserve, or part-time, officers must be laid off prior to any full-time officers leaving for financial reasons.

When matching up salaries, about six part-time salary wages equals one full-time officer’s gross pay, when accounting for salaries and benefits.

Losing the reserves unit, consisting of eight employees today, means fewer officers patrolling during crime-heavy times, such as summertime, nights and weekends.

Also at risk of being eliminated: Two-officer patrols in one car and a community liaison program, aiming to foster goodwill between police personnel and area organizations.

“I would consider any reduction in current staffing levels as being problematic and detrimental to the services the Sandusky Police Department will be able to provide,” Orzech said. “The overall operations will be affected, the safety of our officers and citizens will be jeopardized and the perception of crime in Sandusky will adversely impact future economic development”

City officials want to avoid laying off police officers.

But it’s a necessary measure to erase the city’s red ink, many contend.

In fact, the police department faces minimal staffing setbacks when considering the fire department could lose 11 percent of its full-time work force during this fiscal crisis.

“No one wants to make these cuts,” commissioner-elect Dennis Murray Jr. said. “That’s the last thing we want to do. Our revenue stream has been cut, and we need a budget that faces the reality we face”

Orzech plans on talking with union representatives in hopes his officers can make concessions to offset the deficit.

Earlier this year, representatives negotiated a three-year pact — which includes annual 1.5 percent raises in each year — for a new labor deal. These raises amount to $120,000 over the contract’s life.

“We are open to discussion on anything,” said Douglas Behringer, an attorney representing Sandusky’s police union. “It doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will agree. It just means we can discuss things”

Comments

BEHAPPY

Just what we need!! Rediculous!!!!

Gardenman

Last week we heard from the Sandusky Fire Chief and how cuts will affect response times, etc. This week its the Sandusky Police Chief to sound off. I am sure over the weeks ahead there will be other departments at City Hall that sound off too. There is nothing new here in the City of Sandusky budget getting less and less. One only needs to look around the city and see the vacant commercial and residential buildings. That equals to less money coming in to the income tax coffers / property taxes. Take a casual stroll thru the Erie County Auditor's website and you will find so many properties in the city that do not have taxes fully paid on them. Some of the largest holders of mulitiple properties in the city are landlords and they are paying only enough for them not to have their properties put up for auction. That means they pay a few hundred $$$ of several thousand that keeps them out of the auditor foreclosing.

When you don't have the revenue coming in its pretty clear you don't have the revenue to keep the services at the same level. That is not rocket science and city commissioners have long avoided this fact and now it has come to sit on their doorstep. The time for tough decisions has come and the commissioners need to get to work and DO IT !! It's going to take everyone to get thru this and that means the police union and other unions and I honestly think they will do that......they just need to know the city is playing fair with them too and their lies the rub for that has not always been true.

City could have saved so much money by moving city offices in with Erie County but NO the commission acted like they had money to burn and they don't as we can see. As long as those kinds of actions are done the city will never pull out of this mess.

gene44870

I agree with a lot of things you stated , But one thing you have to remember is in order to have building etc. filled and increased tax based , you have to give people something other then Drugs , Murder , crime as a whole .It seems like the Erie County Thugs are winning the war and we are not able to contain the crime in Sandusky as well as Erie County , I think if we can not only clean up the building in Sandusky but the crime as well , We might just make it attractive enough to draw in my companies to come here and help us to increase our tax base , We have been too dependent on things like Cedar Point and tourist to keep the tax base good enough to take care of the cities bills and as you can see its not doing it .Its time to not only clean up the buildings in Sandusky but also the streets.Drive these thugs and drud pushers out of town , Unless we do something to increase the tax base , we might be following Detroit in filing Bankrupsy . Its time for the residents to take the city back and tell the elected officials that something needs and will be done , or there will be changes at the goverment level

Justwow

I would really hate to live to in Sandusky. You won't be able to start to control them now!!! Good luck. Turning into a wild animal zoo.

Whiskey Tango F...

I can fix all of this with ease...
1. Get a new prosecutor
2. Get a real judge that sentences criminals
3. Get a warden at the jail that makes life a living hell
4. Actually lock up a criminal
5. Other wannabe thugs will actually be afraid of committing crimes
6. Crime goes down and cops are respected when the lights come on.
7. Fewer criminals = fewer cops
This can't happen overnight, so the easiest thing to do is eliminate another good job in this dying town, and raise taxes on whats left of the working class. It has worked so well for the past 30 years that it can't go wrong! (Sarcasm for all of the sticks in the mud)

SamAdams

+1

gene44870

Yea and I know what they can do with The COUNTY JAIL ,to deter thugs from coming back , Cut off the T.V and take it out and shut off the Air Conditioning , Make to unattractive enough that they will do one of two things , One they will be law bidding o0r two , they will leave our town and not come back , so the risk will drop and save the county millions of dollars a year .Stop and thing about it . The Tax payers are sick of the thugs and goverment sitting on thier thumbs and just giving a slap on the hand ..I know that due to the crime in what has ben going on in Sandusky over the last decade , I would not even think about opening a plant or a shop .

Kingsin

I can say how we deal with the thug issue in Norwalk- they're hounded incessantly till they go back to Sandusky.

santown419

Isn't Norwalk the place where a garage full of drugs came up missing. I don't think you chase no one away after seeing the Norwalk paper. They might not have more violence but the have alot and the drugs are way more so that's not true you can't even hound the druggies.

Erie MetroParks

.

SamAdams

I've very rarely had to call the Sandusky police. But I want to go on record as saying that in those few instances, the officers have been helpful, efficient, and (though they're not required to be) really nice.

I know that there are bad cops out there, probably a couple of them here. But there are bad employees in EVERY discipline! The repercussions can just be more serious when it's a police officer.

The police, just like any other job, should be judged on MERIT, not on seniority or anything else. Getting rid of a cop who sleeps on the job is a lot less impactful than getting rid of an officer who takes "protect and serve" seriously. Surely there's ONE man (or woman) who can be let go without jeopardizing everybody's health and safety! (Union members, it isn't about protecting YOURSELVES. It's about performing to such a standard that it's WORTH protecting yourselves!)

Meanwhile, $70,000 needs cut from the police department, right? Well, our City Manager makes a lot more than that and her performance to date has been abysmal. I say we cut HER salary and KEEP those we actually need and who do their jobs!

gene44870

i guess the City hasnt learned anything at all from the death of one of the best officers in Sandusky , and that was Officer Dunn , and if I recall the city had layed off some officers right around the time that we lost one ours .I still wander if the police would have had more officers out there on the streets , I am wandering if the death could have been avioded .By laying off Police officers , the only thing you are going to do besides balance the budget ,You will say the drugs pusher and law breakers they are winning the war and they can get away with it cause there arent enough police to stop yea . And plus you ploace the other Officers at a risk not to metion us that abide by the law .This is something that should not happen in any city , not just Sandusky .The public has the right to be safe and when you take police and fire away , you increase the chances that they will not be there when and if the need arises and that my fellow blogger is a voilation of the residents rights ..And all in the name of Balancing the budget ,Its easy for them to cut things and people from the payroll cause if I reall the city can not be sued . Or at least I dont think they can , I might be wrong , but I dont think so

Nor'easter

AMEN!

SanduskySlayer's picture
SanduskySlayer

Get rid of the Police, allow community policing to occur again.

Truth or Dare

"A reduction of court, evidence and training." How's that work within this line of work? Pretty sure this all puts the kibosh on any talk of moving City Hall, eh? If there isn't enough $$$ to pay to adequately staff both, there is no money to build new!

Why no Safety Levy for Police and Fire? How much in tax $$$'s has been squandered away for lawsuits over the last decade easy, back-pay for those fired and rehired, or tax $$$'s just stolen, like the 3 million in housing $$'s and no accountability as to $$ figures. No answers to date, charges, let alone restitution from those that stole it to the taxpaying public, and the Commissioners' answer is to raise the Income Tax?

When was the last time the Admission's Tax was raised? Put the Income Tax on the ballot w/o raising the Admission Tax first, and I guarantee a No vote, for myself and on behalf of all that come into this city to work on a daily basis that have no vote.

Babo

Seems to me raising the admission tax is the way to go. The present Admissions Tax rate is 3% and I do not know if admissions are subject to sales tax. In Ohio most admissions are not subject to sales tax, so the Admissions Tax which goes exclusively to the City ought to be at least as much as the sales tax or 7%.

Also, do Commission members when discussing tax options disclose if they have any conflict of interest in votes concerning admissions taxes and recuse themselves from discussions? Here, I am thinking about Commission members who are employed by Cedar Fair, own shares in the company and or provide legal representation or other professional services to the company.

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