MEMPHIS, TN— The Memphis police director's budget of $220 million got the ok from the city council Saturday morning but it's only a preliminary vote and not all the council members voted. There will be two more votes before the council finalizes MPD’s budget.
MPD pays $118,000 a month for rent at 201 Poplar Avenue. It costs more than $80,000 to certify cops for special training like bomb technicians and it takes $2 million dollars to graduate a class of 40 police officers. The list of police budget items goes on but city council members are saying "not so fast."
Memphis city council members had plenty of questions about the Memphis Police Department’s $220 million dollar budget.
"How much has the department received from the red light cameras since we've instituted them?” councilman Harold Collins asked Police Director Toney Armstrong.
The director did not have that answer and will get back with the council on an exact figure. One of Collins’ concerns was how MPD helps surrounding cities too much and it's putting a big financial burden on taxpayers.
"We're trying to reduce as much costs as we can so that we can soften the burden that the citizens of Memphis have been carrying for so long,” Collins told abc24 news.
Armstrong says that's not the issue. His proposed budget is higher than last year because cost of doing business is up.
"Our fuel charges have gone up, our shop charges have gone up, and there were some mandatory upgrades,” Director Armstrong said. “This budget did not reflect any excess, it didn't reflect any new toys or bells or whistles or anything. It's just a basic day-to-day operations."
Most of that money will go towards hiring new officers. Armstrong wants to hire 80 cops next year. He says more officers means more tickets and more money for the city.
"We only ran a third of the traffic details than we ran last year," the director said.
MPD's budget may have passed the first round but you better believe city council members will go through the budget with a fine tooth comb in the next few months before it's finalized in June.
"We spend 62 percent of our total city budget to protect others with police and fire. That to me is an enormous amount of money when we have other things that we need to do,” said Collins.
Director Armstrong says the department has about 2,400 police officers. They're supposed to have 80 more but because of retirees, or even bad behavior, the department continues to come up short.