ANAHEIM : Council Studies Ways to Fund More Police
Everyone on the City Council agrees Anaheim needs more police officers, but getting a majority to agree on how to pay for them has proved difficult.
This week the council had its hopes dashed for a federal grant to pay for the officers, so it finds itself going in at least four directions on the issue.
Mayor Tom Daly wants to streamline government, privatize more city functions and use sales tax from Anaheim Plaza when it reopens. Councilmen Irv Pickler and Bob D. Simpson want to tax utilities, which the city once did. Councilman Fred Hunter wants to increase the tax on hotel and motel guests. Councilman Frank Feldhaus wants to use profits from the city’s electric and water company.
To add 50 officers in the near future--which the council has agreed to do--will cost about $4.2 million annually, city officials said.
“We all know we need more police officers, but nobody is willing to do anything to make that happen,” Simpson said. “Nobody . . . is doing anything to build a consensus. And, frankly, it makes us all look like idiots.”
The number of Anaheim police officers has grown from 326 in 1988 to 352 today, a 7% increase. But homicides in Anaheim are up 84% during the period; robberies are up 35%; the population has increased 16%, and the number of gangs has increased more than 700%, according to city statistics.
The city is now spending $48 million a year on police, compared to $33.8 million in 1988, a nearly 40% increase. In addition to the new officers, salary increases and the hiring of more civilian employees to handle paperwork have accounted for the bulk of the increase, city officials said.
To pay for more officers, the council continues to hope Anaheim will receive a $2-million grant from the U.S. Justice Department. But when the first awards were announced Monday, the city was not on the list. Two more rounds of awards will be announced by February, but only about 150 more grants will be given to the approximately 1,600 local governments that have applied.
“The City Council will have to come through with the answer” on how to fund more officers, said Bruce Bottolfson, president of the Anaheim Police Assn., which represents the city’s rank-and-file officers. “The federal government is not the answer.”
Daly wants the council to consider leasing the city’s two golf courses to a private operator, which could bring in an extra $1 million per year. He also says Anaheim Plaza will bring in additional sales tax revenue to the city when it reopens next year.
Hunter said the city could add more officers by adding another percentage point to its 13% hotel and motel bed tax, which would raise an additional $3 million annually.
Pickler and Simpson have called for reviving the city’s 2% utility tax, which expired in September. Pickler has called for using half of the $8 million the tax would raise annually to hire more officers.