HOLLY, Michigan – Members of Holly’s police department are breathing a sigh of relief today after council voted in favor of reallocating necessary funds to keep part-time police officers on the payroll for the next fiscal year.
In April, council approved a budget proposal to close a $146,249 gap through several employee layoffs, hourly reductions, and a key change to the village’s liability insurance carrier. Layoffs in the police department equated to $126,000 – the amount necessary to balance the 2012/13 budget.
Last month, Holly resident and retired police officer Buster Winebrenner presented council with a four-page budget reduction plan which included several financial alternatives to be considered in the hopes of preventing the layoffs. While some of Winebrenner’s ideas were not feasible, council members considered the notion of accepting wage reductions offered by members of the police department and management as part of the solution for avoiding layoffs.
During the June 5 special meeting, Village Manager Jerry Walker said previously outlined reductions coupled with police department and management wage concessions would still leave the village with a small budget deficit.
“After doing all of that, there still remained about $24,000 that we were short because we had made all the budget reductions necessary in order to meet the budget with just accounting for the layoff of one police sergeant,” Walker said. “But that then allowed saving the one additional police officer position that was being contemplated for layoff,” he added.
By not having to layoff an additional police officer, Walker said council was then left with the possibility of using part-time personnel. “As we’ve discussed over the last couple meetings, if we are going to operate dispatch, an important component of that is part-time personnel and that cost is about $25,000 total – and that’s on the conservative side,” he said. In speaking with Chief Elena Danishevskaya, Walker said the figure for part-time coverage could be higher, but that the goal would be to try and operate with that amount. “So in essence, that left us $25,000 for that position, and about $13,176 that we had to make up.”
Walker said council members had two options to consider – to complete the 2012/13 budget by using $11,000 in Economic Development Corporation funds as directed by council at the last work session on May 15, and transferring the remaining $13,176 from one of the assigned funds or undesignated fund balance, or reverting back to the previously approved policy for two layoffs.
“Based upon council’s prior commitment to maintain dispatch, you would need to look then for that $13,176 after using the $11,000 from the Economic Development Corporation fund,” Walker said. “You have an undesignated fund balance as we discussed previously of about $150,000 – you have $78,000 in a designated or assigned fund that is earmarked for capital improvement, and you have about $100,00 in the fund for the mill pond which is slated for future replacement of the dam at the mill pond.”
Councilwoman Pauline Kenner
Donning a “Save Holly PD” t-shirt, Councilwoman, Pauline Kenner said she was in favor of taking the needed funds from the Capital Improvement fund.
Village President Jeff Miller didn’t agree.
“I don’t think I want to go that route because the fact that if cuts need to be made, cuts need to be made,” he said. “We made a vow to work for the village of Holly which is 6,000 people – not six or eight or 10 – 6,000.”
Kenner argued that job cuts will lead to more overtime among police employees. “You’re going to pay a lot more overtime because you’re going to have part-time officers that are going to be laid off, so how are you going to justify that?” she asked.
Walker made the clarification that in the current budget, there is no money budgeted for part-time police officers, even with the transfer of money over from the Capital Improvement fund. “But there is money budgeted for part-time dispatchers because as I previously stated, in order to maintain dispatch and run it efficiently in the manner that (Chief Danishevskaya) proposed, part-time dispatchers are part of the equation.”
Councilman Tom Clark echoed Kenner’s sentiment. “I have no problem with taking that $13,176 from capital improvements because if we have a catastrophic problem between now and next year, that $13,000 isn’t going to touch it,” he said.
Councilwoman Sandra Kleven
For Councilwoman Sandra Kleven, her decision to dip into capital improvement funds stems from her worries over employee burn-out.
“You have good employees who quit because they can’t handle overtime all of the time,” she said. “They look for other jobs where they don’t have to work overtime all of the time – it really puts a strain on an organization.”
With that, Kleven made the motion to balance the proposed budget by transferring $13,176 from the Capital Improvement fund to the police department, with Kenner seconding her motion.
In a vote of 6-1, the vote passed, with Miller casting the dissenting vote. Council is expected to approve the 2012/13 budget at its June 12 meeting.