The Greensboro Police Department was the only department in the City of Greensboro that actually had its budget reduced when City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba presented his revised budget at the City Council work session on Tuesday, June 14.
The Greensboro City Council, with the notable exception of Councilmember Sharon Hightower, constantly voices its support for police. But when push came to shove and the majority of the City Council wanted to reduce the proposed 30 percent tax increase, it agreed to cut nearly $1 million from the GPD budget to lower the tax rate from 66.25 to 63.25, which is still more than an 8-cent increase from the revenue neutral rate of 54.56.
The cut was eliminating the funding for eight additional patrol officers, positions that had no chance of being filled in the upcoming budget year because the Police Department has over 100 vacancies in sworn police officers. It is worth noting that the number of vacancies in police ranks is growing, not shrinking, and by this time next year it could be 140 or 150.
However, despite the fact that the $960,000 was not going to be used to hire eight additional officers, that money was in the police budget and could have been used for other expenses, like overtime for the officers filling in the gaps because of the excessive number of vacancies. It could even have been used for bonuses for new recruits.
By comparison, Jaiyeoba added three employees to his own office. District 3 City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling noted when he spoke against the revised budget that the new employees in the city manager’s office were not cut, nor were any of the 61.75 employees added to other departments cut. The only cut in the number of employees or in a department budget was to the Police Department.
The other spending reductions to make the revised budget balance at the 63.25 tax rate were mainly accounting moves, increasing the estimated revenue, moving spending out of the general fund and reducing the amount going into an economic development fund.