Salisbury: In the End will City Council Half-Fund the Salisbury Police Department as the Fibrant Debacle Drains the City’s Life Blood?

Posted on May 17, 2017

Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney

♦ Readers of Rowan Free Press will remember the many times I’ve appeared before Salisbury City Council to testify regarding the disruption of the Salisbury Police Department due to council’s habit of paying the 2.4M annual deficit ($6,700.00 per day) with empty police positions. Each empty police position saves 100K per year. Nineteen empty positions saves the city $1.9 million dollars per year that can be applied towards the deficit.

After being stood up by Mayor Alexander earlier this year and led to say his Police Department did not need additional money, some subtle changes occurred two months back when Chief Stokes stepped up and requested an additional 900K to make SPD salaries competitive and thereby aid in acquisition of new officers and retention of those presently employed.

At the May 16, 2017 City Council Meeting Salisbury City Manager Lane Bailey asked for a 3.7 cent property tax increase for a SPD wage increase that is sorely needed. With the whopping 2.4 M annual Fibrant deficit, it is clear that a rise in taxes is the only way to start fixing the SPD while Fibrant hangs around. Our estimates are that one cent increase generates about $275,000.00. That figure times 3.7 is $1,017,500.00, so this seems enough to fund the pay normalization. While it will likely be spun as a “Public Safety Tax”, it’s clear it would not have been needed if the Fibrant debacle was never launched. This should be called what it is, “the Fibrant Tax.”

The fly in the ointment is “the budget dance.” Managers typically ask for more than they want then wealthy tax-payers call and complain, and council “stands up to the manager” and passes something lesser. Usually, they all know ahead of time where the final number will fall. It’s like scripted political kabuki theater.

I wish we had unloaded Fibrant a few years back when we had the chance. Since the city is unable or unwilling to sell, lease, or shut down a failing enterprise fund that loses $2.4M per year, we have to replenish and repair SPD before the criminal element burns this town down.

Council should not mess this up with a half-funded effort. Remember, the real tax increase to fill the Fibrant hole in the deficit would have been close to ten cents.


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