The Williamsport Police Department saved an estimated $150,000 in unpaid wages as of June 30, the halfway point of the fiscal year, as a result of not replacing six police officers, according to city officials.
"We've saved about that much from not paying the wages," said William E. Nichols Jr., city director of administration under Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.
As of June 30, the police department had spent $3.2 million of its $6.9 million budget, he said.
The city estimates it spent $300,000 less than what it planned in the budget thus far, according to Joseph Pawlak, director of city finance and budget under Campana.
"We're about 3 percent under budget, for a budget with a complement of 52 officers," Pawlak said.
The police department complement remains at 46 officers because of the retirements of four officers and two resignations.
"The bottom line is the police budget is below what it was last year less six officers," said Councilman Bill Hall, a member of council's finance committee, which this past week received a midway report.
Councilwoman Gerry Fausnaught said her concern wasn't the half-year report but rather what the budget will look like at the end of the year in terms of health insurance payments and retirement costs.
Nichols said the $150,000 that accumulated while the number of personnel was down won't be around for long.
"I estimate half of those savings in (wages) not paid will be allocated to costs to bring on new hires and for pension costs for retirees," he said.
Next month, City Council is expected to review the candidates' qualifications and be asked to hire up to six more police officers to bring the department up to full complement.
"Adding six officers to the health care pool would also add strain to the budget as do more police in the pension pool," Nichols said.
In reviewing what new officers are paid versus those with higher ranks, Pawlak said newly hired police start at about $20 per hour.
In comparison, a police captain gets about $35 per hour, a lieutenant about $34 per hour, and agent and sergeant are paid about $33 per hour, he said.
In addition, the city can expect to pay between $7,845 to $18,400 per officer, excluding pension costs, for other requirements related to bringing on a new policeman, Pawlak said.
"New officers will require certain medical/psychological examinations and outfitting costs," Pawlak said.
And while overall police expenditures were down as of June 30, the police showed a rise in overtime expenses from the same date a year ago, Pawlak said.
Overtime was budgeted at $415,000, Pawlak said. As of mid-year, the city spent $144,000, or $15,235 more than a year ago, but still not half of the budgeted amount, according to city records.
"You don't know what unforeseen events will occur," Pawlak said. Overtime hours typically increase in mid-summer because of more daylight, he said. "You need to have a budget that has resources for the unforeseen."
"I can say with assurance, even with being six officers down and having our overtime hours up and having to pay out benefits, the police budget is in decent shape," said Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman.
Foresman said some accounts registered to overtime are reimbursable. "We submit invoices when police go out to reduce aggressive or intoxicated drivers, or when they are at special events, such as July 4, or assist in drug task force investigations," he said.
Foresman said those figures don't typically show up because they are put "back into a police miscellaneous account or absorbed into the general fund."