ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson calls it the most challenging budget situation he has ever seen. Dotson presented the department`s $176 million budget for the next fiscal year to the police board on Wednesday.
The department`s budget is set to increase by 3% or some $5 million.
But Chief Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay say rising health care and pension costs along with employee raises are about double that amount.
To help deal with the difference, Dotson says 34 civilian positions at the police department are in jeopardy for next year.
"Thirty-four positions are going to be unfunded. Right now there are 37 vacancies in the department. The challenge is are those vacancies in the right positions. So ideally we would like to avoid laying off anyone and handle it through attrition but I always have to keep that option on the table," said Dotson.
Dotson says civilian employees will be getting two percent raises and officers will receive differing 'step' raises.
Amidst the budget challenges, Dotson reported good news in the fight against crime in the city. He says overall crime in the city was down 2.2% in the first quarter of this year.