Raytown police chief says city budget cuts may lead to reduction in force and patrol

RAYTOWN, Mo. — Raytown’s police chief received a letter on Tuesday advising him that when the new fiscal year starts in November, he won’t have $2.7 million he was expecting.

Chief Jim Lynch wrote an open letter criticizing city of Raytown, and warning that the sudden budget change would likely mean drastic job cuts. Officers, detectives, and dispatchers who have jobs right now, might not have them later in the year.

Here’s the letter in full:

Dear Residents of Raytown:

 I have had the pleasure of policing in Raytown for more than 40 years and have been Chief of Police since 2001. Our mission at the Raytown Police Department is to provide a safe community for the people that live and work in Raytown. I am proud to work with our dedicated men and women and I hold a great deal of responsibility to the people who call Raytown home.

Last night, I learned that the upcoming budget of the Police Department, which begins on November 1st, will be cut by over 2.5 million dollars, in addition to another half million dollars that have been cut. To fully inform our community, I have released a copy of the letter that outlines the budget cuts.  In order to meet that budget goal, drastic reductions to staffing must occur. 85% of our annual budget is made up of personnel costs, for our dispatchers, detectives, police officers, and the rest of our staff. The budget reduction equates to substantial impacts to public safety service, including the reduction of the number of police officers that serve our neighborhoods and protect our city. Please bear with us as we work through this.

Thank you for your patience while we address this development and its impact on the men and women of the Raytown Police Department and the safety of the Raytown community.

Sincerely,

Chief Jim Lynch

FOX 4 reached out for a response from the city, and received the following:

The Raytown Board of Aldermen greatly desire to enter 2018 with a balanced budget.  For the better part of the past decade, the City has accessed funds from its reserve as spending has been in excess of revenue.  As this would not be sustainable for anyone’s personal finances, it’s equally not sustainable for the finances of a business or municipal government.
As the City is in the midst of preparing the FY2018 budget, revenues for the General Fund are projected to be roughly  $10.6 million.  Each department submitted desired projects and expenses which totaled $13.996 million leaving a significant funding gap in excess of $3 million.
Each department is foregoing items to attain the first truly balanced budget (expenditures equalling revenue) in several years.  The Police Department submitted a General Fund budget request in excess of $7 million and currently utilizes a very large portion of the entire City budget.
Public Safety is absolutely critical; however, the Board of Aldermen also recognizes the need to budget within the means of the current revenues received by the City.
I believe I can speak for all of our Aldermen in regard to a desire to increase funding for all departments.  Unfortunately, revenues dictate tighter control of the funds rather than greater expenditures.  As the other seven department have already been slimmed down, the only feasible department to reduce is the Police Department.
No one on the Board of Aldermen is pleased with this option, however an entity cannot sustain itself spending more than it receives.  
Thomas A. Cole, CEcD, MBA

CITY ADMINISTRATOR 
City of Raytown, MO