Suggestion on cutting budget draws fire

03/20/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Tampa City Councilman Thomas Scott appeared to be an army of one this afternoon when he said he hoped the city could investigate a memo by a Tampa police official that said the city could save $6 million in salaries and other benefits by cutting 15 positions within the Police Department.

The memo was sent by Tampa police Sgt. Borthland Murray last month to the Council. A followup memo by Police Chief Stephen Hogue categorized Murray’s claim as "wildly inaccurate.”

Laura McElroy, a spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department, says the TPD has convened a Task Force to study every aspect of the Department to see how they can become more efficient.

Scott said that with the city contending with significant budget issues, it behooved them to learn more about potential savings.

Quoting Chief Hogue’s response, Councilman Charlie Miranda said the city was creating an enormous problem by not following the proper channels.

McElroy said Murray's letter to the Council was inappropriate.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Hogue has increased the number of lieutenants in the city from 13 to 16 since he was hired five years ago, while the number of sargeants that lieutenants supervise has decreased by 10 in the last five years.

Scott said he had no clue if Sargeant Murray was a disgruntled employee, but it was worth further investigation.

Councilman John Dingfelder said the city should encourage city employees about savings taxpayers funds. He said it would be appropriate to have Chief Hogue, and the city’s budget analyst, Bonnie Wise come back to the Council.

Ultimately, Scott expressed frustration that the Iorio administration is reluctant to come up before Council on issues like this.

City Attorney David Smith said the best opportunity for the Council to review the proposal is when the Police Department presents its budget for the next fiscal year.

Tampa Police officials boast that the 42 percent reduction in crime over the past four years indicates what they’ve be doing is working.

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