BELLEAIR - A mess in the police department is nothing new for Belleair.
The town has gone through a gaggle of police chiefs in recent years. Something fundamental seems to be wrong.
With neighboring Largo now administering the Belleair Police Department, it might be time to see if better opportunities and lower costs might be available to Belleair’s taxpayers who now pay about $1.257 million a year for the department.
It’s nice to have your own police force, and one observer once tagged the Belleair P.D. as “household cavalry.”
There’s the story, maybe true, maybe apocryphal, of the dowager madame who one day called police headquarters in the Town Hall with the complaint that her wind-blown trash cans were rolling around in the street and “send someone to pick them up.”
And there was the occasion of one older resident rising on her dignity to chew out in no uncertain terms members of the force right there in the Town Hall. There was at least one witnesses to that.
If that is what a million bucks a year buys, it might be a little overpriced. Or maybe a dose of reality is called for.
In the great world of buying services you get what you pay for. And Belleair doesn’t seem to have gotten much in recent years for its payout – witness the constant problems.
Ready to solve all of this the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office – professionally and cost wise.
Keep this in mind – the sheriff has overall jurisdiction in all of Pinellas County. Also, all residents pay taxes for the Sheriff’s Office.
When a crime of any significance occurs in any of the small town jurisdictions, the Sheriff’s Office conducts the investigation mostly because the sheriff has the tools and professionalism to do so.
So what would the PCSO cost Belleair taxpayers should it be the police agency in the town?
Estimates from the PCSO put the cost at well less than $1 million – a savings to Belleair taxpayers of a couple hundred thousand dollars.
Even in a wealthy town cost has to be a factor. A static tax base creates problems for Belleair – where does the money come from in the future?
There are only two ways – an expanded tax base or increased taxes. That is why there was a push for the town to manage its own electric company. The idea was that that would have been a major source of revenue.
Zero in on some figures – Belleair estimates its cost of the police department in fiscal 2007 (it begins October 1) at $1,357,699.
If the sheriff was contracted for police service it could cost – in the first year only – as much as $1,131,320; that includes start up costs of $382,660, but this figure could be reduced by available and usable assets.
Even so, with the max price, Belleair would still save $226,379 in the first year.
In 2008, the cost forecast for Belleair’s present police department is $1,297,541 (less equipment would be bought). PCSO cost for that year would be about $788,000, it is estimated. A savings of more than $500,000 – a half million.
Currently, the total of personnel costs for Belleair is $987,630. The sheriff can staff the town for $791,926 – a savings of almost $200,000.
Plus, with the PCSO policing the town, Belleair avoids all liability expense – the sheriff bears liability and the town saves about $20,000 in insurance premiums.
Sooner or later, the numbers have to take on a reality. Why pay more, some observers say, for ongoing trouble and problems when Belleair could get top professionals for less money?
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition