Aberdeen, MD – On Tuesday night (May 26, 2009), members of the Harford County Municipal Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 128, attended the City of Aberdeen Council meeting. The purpose of this was to show support for two members of their lodge who would address the City’s Mayor and Council in reference to proposed budget cuts to the Aberdeen Police Department and public safety.
Billy Thompson, State Trustee for the lodge and a city resident addressed the Mayor and Council just after the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2010 budget was passed. In his statement, Thompson advised “city employees prepared themselves for budget cuts and hard times, however looking over the drafted budget, that wasn’t the case for everybody.” Thompson cited “a grand total of $1,576 decrease from the entire budget for all of the Department of Public Works.”
Thompson said “their overall budget added together was increased by $170,760.” Thompson pointed out a line item in the budget that was increased 600%, and that was tree trimming. Thompson went on to say that “the Department of Public Works did not spend all of their available funds in last year. I’m sure the everyday citizen could look at this budget and see that the police department’s bottom line was only decreased by .82% however that number is terribly miscued,” said Thompson. “With an overall budget of $3.9 million, the police department decreases are going to yield a lower overall percentage.”
“Looking over this budget, it seems like the police department or one of its members has done something wrong to cross the author of this budget. If that is true, we would like to remind them that the decisions made don’t just affect one person, it affects 45 members of the agency, and their effectiveness to protect the citizens of Aberdeen,” Thompson said in closing.
Dan Gosnell, a member of lodge 128 then address the Mayor and Council and thanked them for approving an amendment to the FY09-10 budget dealing with overtime for the police department. Gosnell said, “Crime is down in the city because arrests and traffic citations are up. The officers are initiating calls for service and are being proactive to crime trends rather than reactive. The officer must appear in court for those arrests and traffic tickets, and court cases are not always scheduled when the officer is working. Testifying in court is a primary job function of a police officer. Who will tell the State’s Attorney that officers will no longer be appearing in court,” asked Gosnell.
“Other incidents require officers who are specially trained, like SWAT, Crisis Negotiation, Crime Scene Processing, and Accident Reconstructions to mention a few, and without an appropriate allotted overtime budget, these services will be affected. It does not only lower the quality of police services, but possibly place citizens and officers in harm’s way,” said Gosnell. Gosnell continued by saying that “in FY08, actucal overtime paid by the police department was $151,053, $130,000 was appropriate for the current year, and it was originally proposed to cut overtime to $123,000 for FY10.”
“Chief Rudy advised you at last Monday’s Work Session that the men and woman are beyond frustrated. They have delivered the lowest crime rate in 10 years but yet are forced to beg for simple necessities. Crime has done nothing but risen in the county the past year however the County Executive was able to increase the Sheriff’s Office budget by $1.1 million. If allowing crime to rise is a key to a better budget, by all means please let these officer’s know” Gosnell said. Gosnell cited their “counterparts in neighboring municipalities are going to see a step increase in their salaries or a Cost of Living Adjustment, and in the case of Havre de Grace some will receive both.”
“County and municipal governments have found a way to balance their budgets and help out their officers.” Gosnell then thanked the Mayor and Council for passing the amendment that increased the police overtime budget $6,000.”
Jason Neidig, Vice President for the lodge said he is thankful that the Mayor and Council approved the overtime increase, even if its $1,000 shy of what was appropriated for the current budget year. Neidig said, “It just doesn’t make sense to me, $151,053 was spent in overtime in FY08, $130,000 appropriated for this current cycle, and I am sure the police department is either close or over that by now.
The original proposed decrease of $7,000 is a slap in the face for all the proactive measures and hard work these officers are doing to keep the citizens of this City safe. As State Trustee Thompson said, it appears someone in the police department has crossed the author of this budget. If that is the case, it is a shame that the author would put the safety of citizens and officers in jeopardy. “We (FOP) should not even have had to be involved in the budget issues. We should be staying focused on issues strictly dealing with salaries, benefits, safety and working conditions, retirement, and healthcare for the police officers.
Ben Lay Jr, President of lodge 128 says he too is happy that the Mayor and Council put $6,000 of the $7,000 back in the overtime budget. Budget line item issues is really something we should not be involved in however I believe the police administration failed to fight hard enough and come out publically in addressing the cuts. In the day and age, police must stay proactive in fighting crime, especially dealing with gangs and drugs. With the state of the economy, violence and thefts tend to rise. Police services are not an area that can afford to be cut at all as it would affect the citizens.
Let me guess, was Councilperson Elliott against any adjustments to the cuts that the police department was hit with? These are tough budget times everywhere, not just in Aberdeen, but budget cuts to public safety is something that the voters need to remember come election time, not to mention the capital that would have been coming in had the annexation passed, or the raw capital coming in if Aberdeen enacted a “service charge” for a hotel room in an effort to bypass the hotel tax that is needed but sits on a back burner as a favor to “The Friends of Nancy”.
I took a look at the budget and there were some line items that could have taken a hit and there was some money that was wasted this year and apparently will be wasted next year as I see that the round desk in the City Hall lobby isn’t getting yanked out and the cheerful greeter position abolished (along with the benefits package).
Frankly, I don’t understand how some of our officers do it day in and day out. I’ve taken the time to thank them when I see one at 7-11 or elsewhere, but I really cherish the moments when an officer will speak freely about what is going on. Nothing better than straight from the horses mouth if you know what I mean. Crime is down and there is a good feel in Aberdeen, it’s nice and I for one would like to see it stay that way.
RWinger, I am sick of your rants, First response, second sentence and you have linked this issue to annexation. Give up on it, already.
Well Hooskerdog, can you offer something constructive in place of annexation?
I’ll try to help. Re-write the charter, fire the city manager, have a full time mayor (at a reasonable salary), build a toll booth outside of Ripken Stadium, sell the happy greeter desk for fire wood, eliminate the happy greeter position, let’s see, we have to find capital from within because the “a” word (that Hooskerdog doesn’t want me to mention) isn’t going to happen (petition time, referendum, hint, hint).
Let’s see, time to get creative, a little wacky, oh yeah, let’s cut the Boys and Girls Club, let’s forget yard waste removal (maybe we can use Bob’s truck to run to the dump), if each homeowner shovels in front of their house we can cut out most snow removal, ummmmmmmm, parking fees, oh yeah, and permits for yard sales, and permits to hang permits, and even more permits to permit things. Seems a little far fetched, sounds crazy???????? I agree……………..could become a reality, maybe annexation isn’t so bad after all with the capital perks that the developer would be adding in. Oh well, Harford County will get them now and Aberdeen will slowly go broke and cut services more and more!
RWinger, you sound like a broken record. Everything you write about on the Dagger leads back to annexation. Are you getting paid by the post?
Hoosker, can you provide some solutions to the budget woes? Real meat and potatoes that don’t effect services or an increase in the property tax……..BTW if the property tax is reduced because this is an election year, I suggest putting a little cash aside for next year because an increase is sure to follow.
Of course if the budget woes were solved there would still be an issue as brought up by the police union rep:
“Looking over this budget, it seems like the police department or one of its members has done something wrong to cross the author of this budget. If that is true, we would like to remind them that the decisions made don’t just affect one person, it affects 45 members of the agency, and their effectiveness to protect the citizens of Aberdeen”
If I’m reading this correctly the point being made that Bennett (author of the budget) has a vendetta against at least one person in the police department. I’m guessing a commander, so he is going to make the whole agency pay……talk about petty. If cuts in the police effect the safety of the citizens or the police service that we need then this is quite the issue.
Hoosker you might be on to something. Annexation aside, if Aberdeen was flush with cash, the police would still get the screws turned to them by Bennett because of some “issue”……is this the type of mayor that we need in this town? We know Elliott has personal issues with the police that go back many years before most of our officers were on the force. Has this petty cancer grown?
I was going to vote against Bennett and Elliott (if she decided to run after she said she wasn’t going to run again but she has said that before) because of the annexation issue, but thanks to Hoosker opening my eyes, I’m going to vote against them because they apparently put personal likes ahead of the personal safety of the citizens. They have been operating on their own agenda NOT the will of the voters that put them in office. My God, they have turned into……..politicians. This crap belongs in Annapolis, not local government where our officials are still supposed to care.
Hey Hooskerdog you sound like a broken record, Everything you write about on the Dagger speaks against Annexation. Are you getting paid by the red shirts?
Phil Dirt says
It sure seems like Hdog has a not-so-hidden agenda. I don’t see him actually adding anything to a discussion, but instead just bringing everything back to annexation. Hmm, that sounds familiar…
How about cutting the computer person from the budget. Apparently the mayor et al see no need for updating the council minutes on the web site. Must be pretty bad when you’re scared to have a written record out there that people can quickly reference. Sad it is, sad, sad, sad.
It appears that Hoosker can’t give a reply as to ways of ending the budget woes. So at the risk of sounding like a broken record………ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION, Vote against Bennett, ANNEXATION, vote against Ruth Elliott, ANNEXATION, get rid of the greeter position a City Hall, ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION. Okay, I admit, I got a little carried away.
vietnam vet says
I have too admit. I was against Annextion. I don’t think we have much choice. Bel Air & Haver De Grace is steadly closeing in. Aberdeen is being slowly strangled in development.
Al J Thong says
Hey Hoosker Dog; Your dog house here in Aberdeeen? Bet not. I bet you’re burying your bones outside our city.
I say we trap your carpetbagging paws and tie your ass to a police car and see if you can save us some fuel costs.
This city has regressed by twenty years, the day they cut public safety to increase tree trimming is the day to put the 4-sale sign up.
Actually i wonder if i can get a lot in the world the mayor lives in cause it ain’t the one the rest of the city is in.
Is there another way for the city to grow other than annexation? What are the alternative ways for the city to generate revenue? Some of the anti annexation people please explain that to me. And to Bennet
Lylekevin: There are some was for the city to generate revenue without annexation but that would require a battle with the stadium. Other revenues and savings would be short term, like trimming some fat and reeling in some BS spending. There is grant money out there but Aberdeen got rid of a grant writer who popped up in Havre De Grace and has gotten Havre De Grace a lot of grant money.
Bennett had this destroy everything Fred attitude and it cost the tax payers big time. Money has been wasted and now the leadership is searching high and low for funds needed to keep the government rolling.
Anti-annexation people will not give you any alternatives, it’s not how they operate. Most don’t live inside the city limits so they really don’t care about the state of affairs in Aberdeen.
I support smart growth through annexation and I also support fiscal conservation when it comes to government expenditures. Public safety is something that Aberdeen and Aberdeen only can offer it’s citizens. In Aberdeen we don’t rely on the Sheriff’s Department or the State Police, we enjoy having our own force, complete with detectives, undercover police, and uniform police to respond to calls and patrol our streets. If the police department can trim a budget without effecting public safety then by all means go for it and if the police department can trim some fat to move money to where the officers need it then that is effective leadership within the department and is a must. WE, the taxpayers, can’t spoil our police and give in to every whim, but we have a responsibility, as tax payers, to see that our police force, the one that we pay for, the one that serves us, is allowed to function with proper equipment, manpower, and resources, and WE, the taxpayers, instead of huge raises to p[art-time politicians, need to see that our police are compensated for a job well done.
you are right there are a lot of things the city could get rid of!! Take the Mechanic that is assigned to the police dept, he is not a certified Mechanic, he can only change oil Takes 2days, and replace tires-3days, everything else has to be sent out to a real Mechanic!! lets cut that Position and save even more Money! That along with the Greeter Job would save at least $100,000!!
vietnam vet says
THOR-09 The police department Mechanic has been there a while. most likely retirement age. and hanging in there fore the money and Insurance. he’s not the only one.
Can’t say I blame them. they have done there time.
let me just say that I am beyond tired of this ring around the rosey BS being fed to citizens. There is a TON of places that money can be saved. DPW gets whatever the heck they want. The council can say otherwise but its been like that for a long time. It is time to get people in there that will be honest about things. Get rid of people who are incapable of doing their job, (HR person comes to mind as well as the PD mechanic) get rid of people not qualified to do their jobs (ummm….thats alot of people) and stop doing favors for your “buddies.”
vietnam vet says
Heads are going to roll at the board of ed. it’s retire. or lose benefit’s Aberdeen can do it too.
hammer time says
here is a good question for ya. if the mechanic cant do all the repairs himself and we send vehicles out to an “outside shop” why isnt that put up for bid from the city. why is only one shop allowed to do our work. and are we getting the best price? go ask that shop how much he made off of the city this year it will make you sick! not to mention the fact that they are not much better than the city mechanic. much of the time the cars are taken back two and three times before they are fixed correctly. as for the HR how many times do we have to change insurance before they get it right. believe me this is just the surface of a terrible situation.
An HR person may be tasked with seeking the best medical coverage keeping in mind the cost to the city and the cost to the employee as well as deductibles and co-pays. If your HR person is not taking on the task at a satisfactory level, you may seek outside insurance, however, you will see that the costs are skyrocketing. If the officers aren’t getting a raise this year, the HR person should have, in ANY FAIRNESS, been seeking the same medical coverage at no increase on the employees part. If the city had to kick in a couple of extra bucks then so be it. If the greeter position (and benefits package) was not created the city would have had that extra cash to help with the premiums.
On a side note, your premiums are increasing and medical is costing more due to a couple of factors. Doctors have to carry so much malpractice insurance because the law makers (one party in particular) refused to go along with tort reform and caps. There are many illegals in this country getting medical treatment and skipping on the bill (hospitals have to treat regardless of insurance or ability to pay) and the American citizen is paying the tab little by little through health care premiums, co-pays, and alike (that same political party comes to mind when dealing with the illegals). Another factor is the cost of drugs. The same drugs are produced in Canada at a quarter the price and the the patient isn’t paying out the yingyang as opposed to the US. A US prescription can cost $110 and the same exact prescription with a Canadian manufactured drug, the same exact drug, may cost $20. Guess what political party gets huge donations from US drug makers? If you think your health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free through socialized health. If you want treatment you will pay out of pocket or carry extra insurance. Nothing like being on a 3 month waiting list for a CT scam or MRI to find out that your illness is now inoperable. Canada has socialized health and Canadians come to the US for their surgeries because of the 2 and 3 year back logs. Great Britain has socialized medicine but those that can afford supplemental insurance get it so that they can get timely treatment and advanced treatment. Socialized medicine in the US…..hmmmmmm…..same political party, interesting, very interesting.
Maybe Thor or Sandi or someone on the inside can shed some light on the word going around that Bennett is on the county police force band wagon, along with Helton and the his flock, that would pretty much eliminate the municipal police departments in Havre De Grace, Aberdeen, and Bel Air. I’m told Bennett wants to get rid rid of the Aberdeen police force so that he can cut taxes when he knows all to well that our portion of Harford County taxes would increase. The taxpayers don’t save a penny and the taxpayers suffer because we don’t have our police department, we don’t have 3 or 4 or 5 officers working on a shift in out city limits. We suffer with response time, we suffer with proactive policing, we suffer with a crime rate like Edgewood or Perryman all because this guy, a former trooper, wants to make his puppet master happy and because he apparently can handle the fact that the officers are united in their FOP union and will speak up against budget cuts and working conditions. It’s not Mike Bennett’s money, or Ruth Elliott’s. or anyone else on the council, it’s our, the taxpayer’s money, and we have to have a say in how it’s spent. I don’t know about anyone else but I think public safety is a pretty good expense.
Apparently the crime rate is rising. Can anyone shed light on the murder this past weekend? Was it gang related, drug related, or a personal score? Are “cutbacks” hindering the police investigation?