FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2013
TO: All Media Outlets
Contact: Paul Heh (505) 459-5545
Berry Syphon's 45 Million Dollars from APD and creates a Financial Crisis
Upon taking office, Berry essentially froze or reduced the hourly wages of those officers to where they are now which is $25.18/hour. With 950 officers making $25.18/hour the base personnel budget out of APD’s operating costs would be (and was projected to be) around $50 Million. This does not include overtime expenses. However since Berry took office, the population count of these officers has fallen to about 750 which is where it stands today. Therefore, the base personnel budget for this actual number of officers is about $40 Million. So over three years, by the departure of almost 200 officers and detectives, Berry’s city budget has not had to spend close to $30 Million in APD personnel costs as the actual costs fell below the amounts budgeted because of manning level shortfalls.
On July 1, 2010, by contract with the city these officers were supposed to get raises to $28/hour. This would’ve meant an increase of $5.6 Million/year in personnel costs for those 950 officers as their wages jumped by 11.20%. However, as we know Berry breached that contract despite there being tens of millions of dollars available for discretionary expenses that Berry preferred over contractual obligations. Because Berry did not honor this increase in pay, he again departed from budget forecasts and did not have to spend approximately $16.8 Million over the last three years for this pay increase.
Because of Berry’s policies, he has diverted over $45 Million away from the police department. But in doing so he has created a personnel crisis. This has not been an accident, this has been by design and these numbers prove it.
APD is understaffed and has all but lost its most seasoned and experienced officers. APD’s recruiting effort is hampered by DOJ’s ongoing scrutiny and investigation into the department and its lack of competitiveness with other departments. And by the officer’s own assertion, morale cannot get any lower.
However APD’s budget has continued to grow to where it is today: $153 Million. So even with actual personnel costs plummeting because of a 25% reduction in staffing, the department is rife with expensive boutique projects that look great, but accomplish little –especially when you are the person trying to get an officer to respond to an ongoing crime.
Berry’s actions like this are not limited to APD, but include all departments staffed by employees working under collective bargaining agreements. From Fire to Solid Waste, Berry has diverted funds from the very employees that make this city great to outside interests wanting the city’s business. Ironically, while RJ Berry promotes his management of the city as being thrifty and consistent with conservative values, he’s been anything but. The funds I describe here have not been “saved,” they’ve been spent elsewhere and a majority being used to pay outside vendors. That’s where all this money has gone. Under RJ Berry APD, for instance, costs 5.5% more to operate now, than it did under Martin Chavez’s last year but with 25% fewer officers.