Council restores four police positions

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 21, 2011


The Troy City Council voted unanimously to spend part of the $2.6 million resulting from employee concessions and early retirements to put back two sergeants and two police officers that had been among the 38 positions slated to be cut by 2014.

Councilman Wade Fleming initially asked the council at the Sept. 12 meeting to hold off on any budget decisions until after the new council members take their seats in November. The office of mayor and the seats of Council members Robin Beltramini and Martin Howrylak and Mayor Pro Tem Mary Kerwin are up for re-election.

Mayor Louise Schilling defended the move.

“Putting off decisions for others to make is not a wise decision,” Schilling said. “This needs to occur so certainty is there.”

A commissioned report from the International City Management Association on city efficiencies presented to the council this past winter recommended that four police positions of the 38 the city planned to cut should be retained. That report also recommended retaining eight positions in the Public Works department that the city planned to cut, and the council reinstated those during the budget process this spring.

Keeping the four police positions will cost the city $450,000 per year.

Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer said that with the addition of the four police, and the planned reduction of the 34 positions, there would be 1.2 officers per capita.

“The national average is 1.8 officers per capita for cities our size,” he said. “If we put back all 38, we would be at 1.4 police per capita.”

At the council meeting, two residents described the $2.6 million as a “windfall” that city leaders should have expected and included in the city budget and made known to voters before the Aug. 2 special election, where voters approved a dedicated five-year, 0.7-mill tax increase to fund the library.

Schilling said the employees were not required to take the early retirement, open their contracts or offer concessions, and at the time the budget was approved, the amount of savings was not known.

“For folks to imply there was enough savings to run the library, that is not so. The passage of a dedicated millage for five years was what was needed to save the library,” Schilling said.

“We were praying some money would come into being and could be put toward services. … We just didn’t have the exact numbers,” Ellen Hodorek, member of Troy Residents Unified for a Strong Troy, a group that supported the millage, said.

She noted the money did not negate the need for a library millage in any way.

Frank Howrylak, a member of Troy Citizens United, a group that opposed the library millage, said he believed an estimate of the savings from the retirement incentives and concessions could have been included in the budget process.

“We just weren’t getting all the facts,” he said. While he noted that “the library (issue) is behind us,” he said the increase, based on the $2.6 million going forward, could have been 0.3 mill instead of 0.7 mill.