Ralph Reisner | Surfview Court
In his op ed piece in the April 13 issue of the DMT, Mayor Terry Sinnott makes the case for the establishment by DM of an independent police department (hereinafter DMPD).
Regretfully his advocacy article omits salient facts including the following:
(1) The claim is made that the city would save circa $300,000 per year by establishing a DMPD instead of contracting with SD County’s Sheriff office. However, the consultant’s cost estimates submitted to the City Council on April 18, 2016 are by now out of date. The cost projections of the report are based on 2015 data. These projections ignore the significant increases of police salaries, pension contributions and the inflation of building costs in the two years since the report was drafted. For instance, pension contributions alone from 2016 to 2017 are projected to increase by 20%. Thus, to compare DMPD 2015 cost estimates with current contract costs with the S.D. County Sheriff results in a highly distorted conclusion. (see, S.D. Police Officer Shortage Gets Worse, S.D. Union Tribune, April 28, 2017).
Further, neither the consultants report or the analysis prepared by the City Staff addresses the added administrative costs associated with the city manager and staff supervision of the DMPD that is implied by both the consultants report and the City Staff Report of April 18, 2016. Such supervision and back office operations for payroll and such would be for a department of 30 personnel or circa 40% additional personnel from the city’s current roster of 55 full-time employees (FTEs).
(2) The Mayor’s op ed article states: “The staffing increase (associated with a DMPD) would be from 15.8 FTE to 19.0 FTE, an addition of 4 people.” The factual basis for this assertion is unclear since it is puzzling how the addition of 30 FTEs - 29 officers and one non-officer administrative assistant - would lead to a net gain of only 4 FTEs to the city payroll.
(3) The estimated annual savings claimed for the establishment of a DMPD totally ignores two major cost factors. The 2015 consultants report projects that a functional D.M. police department would need to be housed in a physical structure of circa 4300 s.f. — roughly 50% of the space devoted to administrative services in the city hall currently under construction. The $2.2—$3.2 million 2015 consultant’s estimate would appear to be in need of updating and revision notwithstanding the City Manager’s 2017 report that more of less adopts the consultants 2115 low end assessment of $2.4 million — without any backup data.
Construction costs must be considered as well as another major cost factor — namely, the land acquisition costs that a structure of 4300 s.f. plus parking would require. While estimates of land costs, at this point may be a futile exercise, it is certain that land acquisition in Del Mar would be a major hurdle both financially and even in terms of availability.
Many Del Mar residents, such as ourselves, would welcome a more accurate presentation of facts and less advocacy based on questionable facts.