Police seek $3.1M budget for 2021

The 2021 budget for the Hudson Police Department is currently in negotiations. Lance Wheeler/For Columbia-Greene Media

HUDSON — The Hudson Police Department proposed budget for 2021 is currently $3,059,224.

That figure is down from the initial proposal for a $3,353,432 police department budget after negotiations with the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

“I develop budgets based on projected expenses and I try to give a reasonable, presentable budget,” Police Chief L. Edward Moore said.

He proposes the budget based on what he believes the department needs, but the board knows the fiscal restraints of the city better than he does, Moore said.

“If they give me $1 for public safety, I’ll spend $1 on public safety,” Moore said. “We try to be very responsible with the public’s money.”

The board’s proposed cuts included a per diem 911 dispatcher, uniforms for two officer positions, the salary of recently retired officer James Nero’s position minus benefits he was due, five desktop computers, two additional police vehicles and three new Tasers, which have a shelf life that could be extended a year when compared to the importance of other budget items, Moore said at a meeting with the board.

In all, the committee’s proposed cuts come to about $346,000.

“Given the times that we’re in, some of these things we agree are important but we have to be careful of our spending for next year,” Mayor Kamal Johnson said at the meeting.

City department budgets were due Sept. 10 and the board meets with departments from Sept. 15 to Nov. 10 before passing budgets on to the council, City Treasurer Heather Campbell said Tuesday.

Typically, the first step in the budget process is for each department to propose a budget for the coming year. The next step is to meet with the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to negotiate a revised budget, which is then discussed by the board without department heads present. The final round of negotiations then takes place before the proposal is sent to the Common Council.

Hudson police requested $3,353,560 for 2020 and was budgeted for $3,007,421.

“We have not depleted this year’s budget,” Moore said. “We have an excellent record for staying within our budget.”

The Hudson Police Department used $2.2 million of its 2020 budget and has $872,000 left, Campbell said.

When the Hudson Breathe Act circulated the Legal Committee, 2nd Ward Alderwoman and Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga called attention to about $4.5 million in police spending.

The $4.5 million figure comes from adding employee benefits to the police budget, which is mandated by New York state to be in a separate pool of money, Campbell said.

Benefits include the police retirement contribution of $510,270 mandated by the state, Federal Insurance Contributions Act fund of $210,570, apportioned health insurance of $628,762 and apportioned workers’ compensation of $96,047, Campbell said. These funds are part of a larger city employee benefits section of the budget.

The apportioned unallocated insurance for the police is also part of nonbudget police spending, but Campbell could not accurately assess the amount that goes to police because it covers everyone who works for the city, she said.

Municipal insurance, not included in the $4.5 million total, covers all departments in the city. The other funds that contribute to the police department that are not included in their budget are part of the city’s debt service for the court and police building.

For the last three years, the city has paid about $44,000 a year to pay for Hudson police vehicles, Campbell said.

The first bond for the building was for $2.6 million and will be repaid from 2015–2040, and the second bond of $1.7 million will be repaid from 2016-2038, she said.

Campbell expects the employee benefit costs to increase in 2021.

“All expenses go up every year,” she said.

The total city budget is separated into four distinct funds: general, water, sewer and cemetery, Campbell said.

The 2020 general budget was initially $11.9 million, she said.

The budget is adjusted throughout the year because of expenses not covered the year prior, donations, departmental budget changes and this year, budget costs because of COVID-19, Campbell said.

In the spring, Johnson asked all departments to cut their budgets by 5% to 10%. Some of the proposals included employee layoffs and job cuts that Johnson rejected, Campbell said.

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