At the City of Tallahassee budget workshop next week, city commissioners will hear a proposal to increase public safety spending due to violent crime trends. In addition, a proposed property tax increase will be presented as a method to fund the spending.
According to the agenda materials, the collective proposed changes in Tallahassee Police Department’s wages, additional officers, and technology would represent a 14% increase in TPD’s FY24 budget, or $9.5 million in funding.
The workshop agenda notes that “While the City has invested approximately $31.5 million in programs to systemically combat the rise of violent crime, immediate progress toward the target to reduce violent crime by 10% continues to lag. In order to address this trend, it is necessary to increase investment in additional measures including increased patrols for critical times of need, expanded investigative resources, and the implementation of advanced technology.”
City staff states the rationale for the increase in public safety spending is supported by comparisons that indicate that Tallahassee does not have enough police officers. The agenda notes that trends suggest TPD is operating with as few as half of the officers of peer agencies.
For this and other reasons, staff is proposing an additional 20 officers combined with increased investment in advanced technology to better position TPD to meet the level of service our community expects. The FY24 budget includes an additional $3.9 million to fund 20 new officers (including start-up expenses) to increase patrol resources during peak periods when violent crime is most likely to occur, and maximize available time for community-oriented policing efforts.
The city staff notes that an increase in the millage rate of 0.62 mills would fund the balance necessary to support increased police wages, 20 new officer positions, and advanced technology to reduce prevailing trends in violent crime.
For a typical household a 4.72 millage rate would translate to an increase of $139 a year, or about $12 per month, representing a 3.29% increase in the total tax bill.
Two more public meetings are planned, one in May and one in June, to receive feedback from the Commission on priorities for funding, which will include updated revenue estimates and costs as additional information is received.