Police officials are struggling to meet staffing needs without going over an overtime budget that was trimmed back during last year's budget session.
The city's budget overall spending habits seem to be on track, Finance Director Sheila Cumberland told the City Council last week, but police are headed to overruns on their allotted funds for overtime.
The council cut $150,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year police overtime budget from the prior year. Apparently those cuts were too deep since the police department has used all but $30,130 of a $330,796 OT allotment and has another four months to go. Deputy Chief of Police Mike Borges said he knew it was going to be "a stretch" living within the OT budget. He told the council that had the budget been left at the same level as 2011-12, Ceres police would be at 68 percent spending into the overtime budget instead of 91 percent.
Jan. 1 was midway through the budget year.
Cumberland said if more monies are not allocated by the council, police will have to cover overtime through cutbacks in other areas of police operations. Borges sounded a more dire scenario of being unable to adequately cover personnel needs during times of emergencies should they crop up until the end of the budget year on June 30.
Borges said his department is taking steps to reduce overtime costs, including working some shifts short in staffing, working reserve officers, adjusting schedules and the use of comp days.
"We try to use reserves as much as possible," said Borges.
CPD tries to run three patrol sergeants and 11 officers per squad per shift. Five shifts run throughout the 24-hour cycle. Borges said that out of necessity some of the graveyard shifts have run as low as one sergeant and four officers.
Borges told the council that overtime costs were attributed for a number of reasons, including major incidences and crimes, the backfilling of shifts, and officers who must go away for training.
Of the 52-member department, 48 have accrued overtime with 28 involved in patrol activities. The other 20 have worked overtime because of emergencies.
Since the budget year began on July 1, the Ceres SWAT team has been deployed 12 times, Borges said. Things like a major robbery investigation in July, the serving of 28 search warrants, the discovery of major marijuana grow operations, a home invasion robbery in November and two officer involved police shootings all demand increased staffing.
Personnel issues have also contributed to the problem of increased overtime. The injury of a sergeant affected 108 shifts. One dispatcher out on Family Leave Act has resulted in the accrual of 1,200 overtime hours.