January 25, 2013
It's pretty clear to most who follow politics and city government in Galveston, that a move is on to use the new city ordinance approving paid parking on the seawall, to increase the size of police department. Even the chief, who as a lieutenant several years ago opposed it, but as the chief beating the drums for more cops, says using parking income to hire more cops is a great idea. His lifelong family friend, Mayor Lewis Rosen, who gave him his job, is naturally supporting his idea.
Now, let's take a look at the dollar value of this deal, then you decide.
In 2012, the City of Galveston spent $7,473,520.00 on police salaries. This figure does not include incentives, according to a city spokesperson. Additionally, the city paid police officers $466,321.00 in overtime. Total for police in 2012, at least $7,939,842.00, a few buck short of $8 million.
Manpower in the Galveston Police Dept. goes up and down as much as the roller coaster on the Historic Pleasure Pier, but at an average manpower rate of 110 officers, this computes to one police officer costing the city $76,420.00 on the average, annually.
Of course every officer does not make that much. Some who get the gravy, overtime jobs get big checks while others don't. But one can get a pretty good idea of what a cop cost in Galveston.
Now figure out what a metermaid would cost to do the same job, putting tickets on windshields and having cars towed. They make about $24,000.00 a year.
We understand why the Police Chief wants more officers. We don't doubt the city needs more. Galveston has not had a police department at full strength in over a decade and response times is something police chiefs in Galveston have never liked to talk about. So, if we are going to give the police department more officers, let's do it transparently and not disguise it as a need for high paid meter maids, paid from funds city voters did not intend that money for.
We all know about Galveston politics. It's been the same since the 1930's or earlier. But do voters today have to put up with the same political mentality they did over 75 years ago. Are voters still going to be buffaloed by slick talking, good old boy politics and coniving politicians?
If you don't mind paying over $76,000 for a $24,000 meter maid, just sit quietly at home and say nothing. Don't be snowed by names like Parking Enforcement Officer, or other fancy names being used to paint this something it's not. Police officers are police officers. They are assigned to all kinds of duties, not just seawall parking enforcement. Meter maids are assigned everyday to take care of seawall parking enforcement and it's been shown in cities across America that meter maids do a superior job to police officers on parking enforcement because they are not taken from that responsibility to do other tasks.
Here's an except from an editorial in the Galveston Daily News dealing with this issue. "The staff members who prepared the plan obviously had a goal of snagging new revenue to pay for new police officers. Those expenditures for salaries - along with overtime - are clear".
Let's just put it simply like this. Why to cities across America hire meter maids? Answer: Because it's cheaper!
$24,000 Meter Maid $76,000 Cop
Looks like they are both doing the same thing.