By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The City of Plattsburgh and the City of Oswego police departments are fairly similar in staffing and budget size.
The City of Plattsburgh, with a population of 19,949 in 2011, had a 2012 police budget that totaled $6.86 million. The department presently has 45 officers, with five new hires coming on board in the future.
The City of Oswego, with a population of 18,158 in 2011, had a 2012 police budget of $5.44 million, which covers 51 officers, although there are presently 42 on staff.
In an article Wednesday, the Press-Republican had reported Oswego having a budget of $3.8 million for that year — a total that had been provided by the Oswego Police Department.
However, Plattsburgh Police Chief Desmond Racicot questioned the Oswego numbers, saying he didn’t think that figure included retirement, Social Security and health-insurance costs.
So the Press-Republican contacted the Oswego Chamberlain’s Office, which said that city has a different way of reporting its budget numbers and that fringe benefits are not included in the department total.
The Chamberlain’s Office provided the Press-Republican with the formula to figure out the police budget amount including benefits, which came out to about $5.44 million. Workers’ compensation costs are covered by Oswego County, so they are not included in the total.
The revised numbers mean the Plattsburgh and Oswego budgets are close in total amount and staffing.
“There’s no way our budget is double what theirs is,” Racicot said in reference to what was originally reported.
The Press-Republican series also showed comparisons with two other cities: Ogdensburg and Oneonta.
The City of Ogdensburg, population 11,104, had a 2012 police budget of $3.3 million for 28 full-time officers.
The City of Oneonta, population 13,843, had a 2012 police budget of $3.3 million for 26 full-time officers.
Racicot said he thinks that comparing cities like Plattsburgh to cities with a similar makeup does not always present a true picture because there are too many variables in play.
“When you look at the things we have to deal with here, it’s not a true scientific comparison, and you really need to make sure you are comparing apples to apples,” he said.
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