The city budget is available online and I have some more observations.
No actual figures are available yet for the current fiscal year so I am looking at FY 2006 compared to the adopted budget for FY 2008. While the general fund expects a meager increase of 1% the police budget is jumping by $208K to $742K a whopping 39% increase. Coquille is now spending 30% of its general fund on the police department.
The State of Oregon only spends 10% on corrections and is finding this percentage unsustainable. Coquille has a per capita income of just $14, 619 and the share per person for enforcement is over $305 per year.
With such low serious crime rates why are we spending such a high percentage on the police department? Anticipating the argument that the police department keeps our crime rates low and the increase is for prevention I have to ask why then the same argument doesn’t appear to work for traffic violations? The City anticipates an increase in fine revenue of 21% but this does not begin to cover the increased cost of enforcement.
Anyone who has watched the Congressional budget debates or paid attention during the Enron scandal know that budgets are open for interpretation and that it is not always possible to compare apples to apples. Nevertheless, it seems that there might be a better allocation of funds and we should all start paying attention to these budget votes and meetings.
Finally, how does the City assert with a straight face that they have no money available for surveillance cameras with numbers like the above?