Fort Worth

Fort Worth police went over budget this year. Why they need another $14 million

Fort Worth police unveil new north division headquarters

Fort Worth Police Department’s new north division headquarters opened for business Tuesday morning. Police are aiming to improve service to residents and businesses north Loop 820.
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Fort Worth Police Department’s new north division headquarters opened for business Tuesday morning. Police are aiming to improve service to residents and businesses north Loop 820.

The Fort Worth Police Department has exceeded its budget this year, forcing the city to add another $8.5 million to this year’s budget and another $5.5 million next year.

Mayor Betsy Price said she believes the police department has addressed the issue.

“I think we’ve put an end to it,” Price said. “It’s not the first time their budget has been over but it should be the last unless it’s an earthshaking emergency.”

City Manager David Cooke said the goal is to get each city department to spend within its means.

“We’re trying to hold all departments accountable for how they handle their budget,” Cooke said.

Both the city and the police department say the excess spending can be attributed to a variety of issues.

The police department is 52 positions over authorized strength, Price said. A new north division opened earlier this year, which was part of the need for new officers.

“We allowed them to carry another class last year,” Cooke said. ‘It was predicated on a turnover rate that didn’t occur.”

Assistant Police Director Leo Luna said the extra positions from two police academy classes accounted for about $5 million.

Another $1.8 million came from officers receiving education and certification pay that was part of the Meet and Confer contract negotiated between the city and the Fort Worth Police Officers Association. More officers took advantage of the training than was expected.

The police department was also slightly over its overtime budget at $175,000 but addressed the issue during the middle of the budget year, Luna said.

Changes to address these issues have been made for next year’s budget , Luna said.

If approved, the police department’s budget will increase from $239,817,496 to $253,937,840.

At $404 million, the combined budgets of the police and fire departments make up about 60 percent of the city’s $674 million general fund budget.

The additional expense comes at a time when the city is trying to come up with a fix for a projected $1.6 billion shortfall in the Fort Worth Employee Retirement Fund. The city is also proposing to drop the tax rate from 80.5 cents to 78.5 cents per $100 valuation.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna
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