During the budget discussion at the City Council luncheon on Tuesday, City Manager Greg Burris discussed a telecommunications settlement revenue stream that would pay for the ongoing costs of hiring 10 new police officers and 5 new firefighters. That revenue stream was a result of the AT&T settlement agreement reached this year.
Earlier today I asked Public Information Director Louise Whall to clarify that this was not revenue which had been pledged by past Mayor Tom Carlson and the past City Council to go into the police and firefighters' pension fund.
Ms. Whall explained the $10.2 million pledged to the police and firefighters' pension fund was money received prior to June 30, 2009, or during the current fiscal 2008-09 budget year. Burris was referring to ongoing revenue generated by the payment of taxes from AT&T and associates after July 1, 2009, when he referenced the AT&T settlement in regards to ongoing personnel funding in the police and fire departments.
"The revenue Greg Burris referenced yesterday is the ongoing gross-receipts taxes that AT&T et al will pay going forward beginning July 1, 2009," Whall wrote in an email today.
Tuesday, Fire Chief Barry Rowell explained positions in the fire department would be filled more quickly than the police department positions because a portion of firefighter training is accomplished while the trainees are on the job.
In the case of the police officer positions, the AT&T settlement revenue received in the new fiscal year will be applied to reopening the police training academy. It will take up to a year before the police trainees will be on the job at the police department.
The police department is applying for stimulus funds from the federal government which, if granted, would cover the wages of the new police officers for three years, then the City would have to take over the costs of their ongoing wages. The City Council recently authorized the City to apply for those stimulus funds, which are in the form of a competitive grant.