The Southampton Town Board on Friday heard a few reasons why it received a request for $250,000 in police overtime pay, however, other questions — namely, what will the department do to fund overtime for the rest of the year — remained unanswered, and will have to wait until this upcoming Friday.
The issue came to the fore Tuesday, when the board was surprised to hear a request from the comptroller's office shifting $250,000 from a police retirement line item to overtime. The town board authorized a shift of $175,000 to guarantee police officers would get their checks on time, but requested further information before authorizing the balance.
The department was allotted $475,000 for overtime for the entire 2011 fiscal year.
Lt. Robert Pearce represented the police department on Friday at the town board work session, with Chief William Wilson out of the office all last week attending to personal matters, according to town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
Pearce offered a few of places where increased costs have been incurred, though a discussion on what the department plans to do moving forward will be left to this upcoming Friday, when Wilson is scheduled to meet with the board.
According to Pearce, , Wilson has added an eighth sector to the town's patrols, now offering a patrol car in the Flanders/Riverside area 24 hours a day. Pearce said past studies dating as far back as 30 years have suggested adding an eighth sector in town.
In addition, for the past three months the department has been in the process of potentially . The same time has seen "a significant increase in crime and the need for detective services, and a frustration of not being able to keep up with the load," he said.
Pearce said if the officers "cut the grade" for 18 months, they earn the civil service title. Until then, often they are learning the ropes with current detectives — meaning, if one detective is working overtime, the second officer often can be as well.
"If you're dragging a detective learning the job around and you get stuck on a fatality, now two officers are making overtime when previously you had one," he said, adding that detective overtime pay is about double than it was in 2010 so far.
Lastly, according to Pearce, Tropical Storm Irene brought along with her an increase in overtime hours, though he did not have the total on hand. Though he said he expected the town to be reimbursed for roughly 75 percent of those costs.
Councilman Chris Nuzzi expressed concern, at times frustration, with the "matter of dealing with the fiscal reality" that the police department used all its overtime funds with a quarter of the year left to go. Last Tuesday's resolution funded overtime expenses through Oct. 15.
According to budget numbers, the town paid just more than $460,000 in overtime in 2009 and through October of 2010 had spent about $434,000 in overtime.