Jul 25, 2014

Hyattsville Council Approves 2013 Budget

Budget ordinance approved over objections about police staffing classifications.

Hyattsville Council Approves 2013 Budget Hyattsville Council Approves 2013 Budget

Hyattsville residents can banish the thought of a . Last night, the Hyattsville City Council approved next year's budget ordinance by a vote of seven to two, with Councilor Paula Perry (Ward 4) and Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) voting against. Councilor Tim Hunt (Ward 3) abstained, while Councilor Nicole Hinds Mofor was absent citing illness.

The budget lays out $28.3 million in expenditures for fiscal year 2013, which begins on July 1. That includes $14 million in general operating expenses and $9.1 million in capital projects financing. 

The budget is propped up with $20.8 million in revenues from taxes and fees, and $5.9 million in bond and lease proceeds. That means expenditures will outstrip revenues, forcing the city to dip $1.4 million into its roughly $5 million fund balance over the next year.

. It had been stalled for the last three weeks after city council members and representatives from the Hyattsville Fraternal Order of Police raised objections about police employee classifications over the next fiscal year. 

. An early version of the department budget had eschewed the two acting corporals in the patrol division, seemingly redesignating the positions as permanent, full-fledged positions. Later, on April 30, The two acting corporals, listed in police budgets as such dating back to 2010, were added back into the mix, bringing the number of full-fledged corporals back to three. 

Councilor Hunt wanted to know why this happened. 

"In my mind, this is still kind of unresolved," said Hunt. 

Mayor Marc Tartaro, bristling, said the discrepancy was the result of a clerical error. 

"This question has been asked and answered," said Tartaro. "They were inadvertently passed as permanent positions, but they had been corrected to be labeled as previously advertised."

Elaine Stookey, city treasurer and acting city administrator, explained that there was no authorization in next year's budget to increase the number of permanent corporals.

The designations have an impact on promotions and the opportunity for advancement in the city police department. The city police department has not conducted a round of promotions since 2007. Earlier this year, city police officers completed a round of promotional testing, however there have yet to be any promotions to come out of that effort. 

On those grounds, Councilor Perry objected to the budget, saying that it did not reward city police for their work. 

"Everybody needs an incentive with working," said Perry. "If it doesn't look like you're going to move up, then you're going to leave."

Last week's meeting was slated to include a discussion of the city police promotion process, but that was abruptly taken off the agenda,

Hyattsville City Police Chief Doug Holland, who had himself , said that an "understanding" had been reached during a recent meeting with city Human Resources Director Chris Vermillion whereby police and administrative officials would work towards a solution to police staffing issues. 

"This is something we can resolve," said Holland. "The Mayor has made a commitment to me that this is something we can work out…I am confident that the corporals position is going to get resolved."

Holland then urged the city council to not let reservations about police budget issues hold up the budget any longer, noting the amount of time already spent so far in budget review. 

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