138% of Austin Police overtime budget already spent halfway through fiscal year

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department has already used 138% of its overtime budget, just six months into this fiscal year.

According to data presented at the Public Safety Commission meeting, the department had already paid out nearly $4.9 million in overtime from September 13, 2020 to March 13, 2021.

APD Chief of Staff Troy Gay blamed “staffing concerns” for the surge in overtime.

“I do know that we, at times, are struggling to get people to sign up for the overtime slots,” he said.

He also said extra shifts were taking a toll on officers, which is why he hopes the department could host a training academy to add new officers soon.

“We hope that June 7 is the start data,” Gay said, noting it had not been approved in the budget by City Council.

Last month, city leaders reviewed a plan for several changes that must be made before any new cadet classes would be reinstated. This blueprint, presented by City Manager Spencer Cronk, included steps to establish training courses from certain community members and to replace training videos deemed outdated or problematic.

Several commissioners expressed hesitation about supporting any cadet classes or budget increases until they were able to review the proposed blueprint.

“We all deserve to see what the plan is,” one commissioner said.

A slide presented at Monday’s Public Safety Commission regarding APD overtime

APD officials noted a budget consideration of $2.8 million in additional overtime for sworn officers, along with $3.4 million for terminal pay increases — the term for money accrued from leave balances and paid out to law enforcement upon retirement.

A department representative said APD had paid out around $8 million in terminal pay the last few years, and they projected the figure to be close to or more than $10 million this year. Meanwhile, only $4.5 million had been budgeted.

“How did we estimate that so incorrectly in the past?” one commissioner asked the department representative.

The APD representative said it wasn’t an incorrect estimate but that they just want to ensure there’s no “major budget issue.”

While a full department budget for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year is still being developed, APD officials also walked the commissioners through the $302.7 million that’s been proposed so far.

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