Government Budgeting for Kelsey: Budget Changes Needed to Better Protect and Serve the Community
"We're not going to use the budget as an excuse. We're not crying about it. But I'm going to push as hard as I can to get as many people on the streets as I can. We need all hands on deck," so were the words of the Philadelphia Police Chief when faced with a similar situation to what Kelsey faces now (Steele 2010 p 2). Police strength is an absolute necessity in the effort to fight crime, both on local and larger federal levels. Without the appropriate funding resources, many local police forces around the country are beginning to suffer in terms of just how effective they are at fighting crime overall. Limited budgets mean limited capabilities, and that is exactly what the city of Kelsey is experiencing right now. Essentially, the budget is already strained, and without the support of heavy federal reinvestment into the community's police resources Kelsey is struggling to provide its citizens with the protection and safety that they deserve. In order to better equip the city with the power to protect its own people, serious realignment of funds and implementation of innovative policies are needed, both in terms of the budget alone but also in how the Police department uses those budgetary resources. This plan is therefore a necessary step to redefining the safety of the city of Kelsey, even if it has to take the more drastic measures of redefining the city's budget.
The city of Kelsey is unfortunately dealing with issues that many local areas are around the country. As the financial recession continues to take its toll on local capital and governments, the budget is currently being stretched to its maximum, yet with limited success in actually providing greater implementations of safety measures for its citizens. The city is a typical American city. Kelsey is a city with a population of 625,233 (Metropolitan Statistical Area 2000). This makes it a rather large area, and one with increasing demands for keeping up public safety promises. With a population density of5,254 persons per square mile in 2005, some of the neighborhoods in the area are highly crowded, and therefore more likely to entice criminals than others (City of Kelsey 2009). This makes dividing up the city based on neighborhoods an essential in terms of looking at where additional police resources could be placed. Still, the primary problem still persists throughout the city. Crime in Kelsey has been increasing dramatically. The highest rates of crime fall into the category of property crimes and theft (Metropolitan Statistical Area 2000). Additionally, the research shows that there was "50,733 citizen generated calls for services -- most common calls were for larceny / theft," (City of Kelsey 2009 p 2). This also helps legislators understand the notion of growing crimes rates within the city, which will help localized police and community policing efforts. Currently, there are now 2,000 full time police officers in the area (City of Kelsey 2009). This is just not enough to face the growing problems of crime rates within the city. The research shows that there is an "Average of 10 minutes in response time" (City of Kelsey 2009 p 2). When faced in a crime situation, 10 minutes is unacceptable. This allows many of the criminals committing the crime to leave the scene, only to commit additional crimes in the future. As a response, the mayor is demanding more funding available to increase protection of the city's citizens. The current safety situation is simply unacceptable for the legislators in the city's office. It is important to curb these increasing crime rates, but to do so without negatively impacting the other elements of the city itself.
Yet, the city itself does not have a ton of leeway in terms of its budgeting cycle. Kelsey, like many other towns across the United States, has an incredibly limited budget, which makes preparing and allocating future funding for changes to the structure in policing and other regulatory measures to hinder crime extremely difficult. Without the appropriate levels of funding available, budget authorities are faced with difficult decisions. In fact, federal pass-through money has been decreased, which have only increased the need to make changes to the budget and policies of the city on a more localized level. The budget expenditure allocation for 2005-2006 for the police department was already $16,177,678, one of the largest expenditures on the budget's report (City of Kelsey 2006). This number needs to be increased in order to better protect the citizens of Kelsey.
The state's Chief of Police Association is looking to help increase the funding needed through a 15% additionally public safety tax that will occur over the next three years. As of right now, Kelsey's revenues come primarily from only two taxes, the local sales tax and property tax. Adding an additional tax to the city's budget revenue sources would help increase overall revenue that could be then funneled as a Special Revenue Fund into the protection of the city. Many other local governments have begun adopting such safety taxes as a way to make up for decreasing police department budgets. For example, Independence Missouri is contemplating the issue in the present year as well. Faced with limited financial resources, the police department is simply too strained. It needs further support, and safety taxes will help provide additional revenue for such added necessities (DeWeese 2011). This city in particular is actually looking to increase property taxes as a way to help create additional revenue. However, this creates a situation where the increase in tax is permanent. Therefore, adding only a temporary measure in the form of a safety tax helps generate the needed funds until more effective measures can be spelled out in future budgeting reports. Yet, this may prove a very difficult move as the mayor has explicitly stated that the citizens will most likely not support a new tax. Property tax rate is already at $21.58 per every $1,000 citizens' homes are valued (City of Kelsey 2009). Moreover, the mayor has reported that increasing tax levels will be difficult. In order to secure additional revenue through a safety tax, it will be important to set it an appropriate level. 15% simply is just too high, and thus additional funding sources must be allocated from other departments in order to decrease this tax rate to one which the community will accept and be willing to pay for. Tax money will be necessary to help increase the available Special Revenue Funds (SRF) used for increasing the protection and safety of the city. However, adding new taxes needs to be handled immediately so that adding in such taxes would not delay the passing of the budget for the future years in consideration. Here, the research has suggested that "the late or pending enactment of appropriations acts, other spending legislation, and tax laws considered in the previous budget cycle have delayed preparation and transmittal of complete budgets," (Budget of the United States Government 2004). Revision of some funds from other programs is necessary in order to help lower the implemented safety tax to 10% or lower in an appropriate time so that measures can be accepted into the next fiscal years budget for the city.
Redistributing budgetary funds is an incredibly difficult process, and one which will ultimately change the budget cycle dramatically. According to the research, "budgeting is the process of allocating scarce resources among unlimited demands, and a legally enacted budget is an official dollars-and-cents plan of operation for a specific period of time," (Freeman et al. 2011). There are times like now where reassigning limited budget funding to programs in greater need of attention in order to better serve the community is necessary (Budget of the United States Government 2004). According to the 2005-2006 fiscal budget, the City of Kelsey's second largest expenditure is in Development Services, at $6,176,624 and is "responsible for enhancing the quality of Kelsey's living environment and its economic base" (City of Kelsey 2006 p 25). Some programs within this expenditure cannot be trimmed, including things like providing affordable housing and maintaining the city's specific building ordinances. However, over the three-year period a tax would be introduced for safety, budget cuts in the "redevelopment and historic preservation programs" could be trimmed in order to open up more funding out of the already established budget for increasing the policing expenditures. Thus, Community Design and Development funding could be cut in various amounts in order to make the community safer as a whole. Additionally, funding can be redirected from some programs within Community Services as well. The department of Parks and Recreation had an expenditure of $2,028,122 in 2005 with Cultural Services having $1,166,306 (City of Kelsey 2006). Shaving some funding from these departments and temporarily redirecting it to the Police Department will help pay for additional officers and increased community policing training and resources.
Yet, simply cutting other departments will not solve…