cop under gun
Extra hours put the Police Department
over its budget by $321,838 last year
LIHUE » Embattled Kauai Police Chief K.C. Lum is expected to face tough questions today from the Kauai County Council on why his department spent $321,838, or about 2.7 percent, over its $12 million budget last fiscal year.
Lum, whose appointment to the "top cop" position last year rankled members of the County Council, has been asked to discuss the budget overrun at the Council's Energy and Public Safety Committee meeting this afternoon.
Yesterday, though, Lum and police commissioners did the questioning, when county Finance Director Michael Tressler presented the Police Commission with the results of an audit of the department. All but $1,000 of the shortfall was caused by department overtime.
Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste requested the audit since it was the first time a county department had overrun its budget without requesting additional funding.
"I have faith that, with training, the police chief" can do the job, Baptiste said Tuesday. "The question is if he has the skills to manage the budget."
"It's a problem because it's a surprise," the mayor added.
Lum said he thought the department was going to come in under budget until contacted by the Finance Department. And until the commission meeting yesterday, he had yet to see the final fiscal year results or the cause of the problem.
Tressler, however, said numerous e-mails to the chief from the Finance Department, as well as members of the Police Department financial staff, showed serious problems with the department's overtime as early as March.
And this fiscal year has started the same way, Tressler said.
Forty Police Department employees made more than $20,000 each in overtime in the last fiscal year, with 101 employees making more than $10,000 each in overtime, Tressler said. Five officers earned more than $40,000 each in overtime, and one officer made $57,000 in overtime pay.
As of May, overtime totaled nearly $2 million compared with the overtime budget of $1.7 million.
It was unknown how many of these officers were part of the Vice/Narcotics Section, detectives or other specialty units, where they can work 48 hours straight following leads to solve a case.
Although the Vice Section spent double what its budget was for overtime, the majority of the overrun was caused by overtime in the largest bureau, patrol services, Tressler said.
"Crime is down but overtime is up," he said.
While the majority of that overtime was for legitimate reasons, KPD "had captains put in for overtime to check overtime," Tressler said. "There were a lot of little things that added up."
Lum, however, countered that in the final two months of the fiscal year, May and June, overtime had been controlled, dropping roughly 20 percent from previous months.
Meanwhile the county Finance Department has covered the $321,000 overtime tab, Tressler said, using money from the collective-bargaining and other raises account.