Milwaukee police overtime ran $1.2 million over budget last year, defeating predictions that 2008 would end a string of overruns, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Including that overrun, police spending on salaries came in $2.6 million under budget, drawing praise from aldermen for Police Chief Edward Flynn’s management skills. Total overtime was $17.1 million. down from $19.2 million in 2007 but still more than the $15.9 million budgeted. Taxpayers covered only $565,675 of the total, with grants picking up the rest.
Overtime has been a persistent problem for Flynn and his predecessors. A city audit and a Journal Sentinel investigation documented more than $32 million in budget overruns from 2002 through 2007, with expenses running far above those of police in similar-sized cities. Flynn has overseen a major reorganization, merging specialized units into the Neighborhood Task Force to put more officers onto the street, moving around the city to back up their colleagues based in district stations. That restructuring “has created efficiencies and savings department-wide,” police spokeswoman Anne Schwartz said. The chief, who has completed his first year on the job, also demanded greater accountability from district captains on how they managed their officers’ overtime.