City staff is heeding concerns voiced by Richardson’s public safety community by making a change to the proposed fiscal year 2019-20 budget.
Detective Eric Willadsen spoke Aug. 19 before City Council about an officer shortage on the Richardson Police Department. Despite the city’s population growth, there are six fewer trained officers today than there were when Willadsen joined the force 20 years ago, he said.
“We are tired of doing more with less,” he said.
Assessed value growth in Richardson this year means the city’s annual 3.5 cent property tax dedication toward streets and alley maintenance will increase revenue by $400,000. To address the public safety manpower issue, staff is now proposing that money be put toward hiring more fire and police personnel.
Deputy City Manager Don Magner said this will not impact the street and alley maintenance work plan presented June 10.
This type of budgeting decision, City Manager Dan Johnson said, is symptomatic of the laws passed by the state during its recent legislative session.
Senate Bill 2 caps the amount of property tax revenue municipalities can collect each year, meaning city leaders must find new ways to keep up with vital costs, such as those for public safety operations. Next year, the city is looking at a $4-$5 million loss in revenue according to Mayor Paul Voelker.
“The decisions we are making this year are heavily influenced by the decisions we won’t be able to make next year,” he said.
In the coming months, Police Chief Jim Spivey and Fire Chief Curtis Poovey will brief council on each department’s current and future operational needs. Johnson said public safety staffing supplements could become a part of the operational budget in years to come.
The budget is set for adoption Sept. 9.