Press-Republican

Wednesday

February 27, 2013

Plattsburgh City Police is city's costliest department.

PLATTSBURGH — At about $6.8 million for 2012, Plattsburgh City Police is the city’s most expensive department.

Police Chief Desmond Racicot thinks the department is worth it.

“We are a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, awake and working department,” he said. “The taxpayers absolutely get a bang for their buck.”

That may be so, but the buck has been stretched significantly over the past decade. 

UP 46% IN 10 YEARS

In 2002, the department had an overall budget of $3,744,780, with 55 full-time and four part-time officers. The highest-paid officer, a sergeant, made $55,372 while the lowest, a patrolman, made $23,493 that year.

By 2007, the budget had climbed to $5,317,377, with 54 full-timers and three part-timers. The high end of the pay scale for the same positions was $66,764 and the low end $27,103.

In 2012, the department budget was $6,860,782, with 56 full-time officers. The highest-paid officer earned $80,135 and the lowest $29,686. 

Racicot, who became chief in 2003, says the budget has grown about 46 percent in the past decade for good reasons.

“When people think of the Police Department, they think of a black and white (vehicle) and an officer, but we are much more than that.”

Racicot noted that in addition to law enforcement, the department is responsible for animal control, the parking-violations bureau and crossing guards. Also, in the past decade, it has taken over all Internet technology for the whole city.

“All of those fall under our budget,” the chief said. “And we have management oversight over all of that.”

OVERTIME INCREASES

The chief said the department has cut services over the years due to difficult financial times. Gone are the Youth, Traffic and DWI divisions. That work is now spread out over the entire staff.

Overtime pay has risen from $125,600 in 2002 to $235,000 projected for this year, but Racicot said that it is offset somewhat by federal and state reimbursements of about $60,000.

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