Having conducted several budget workshops during the past month, City Manager James Fisher is now finalizing the 2018 Operating Budget in order to officially present the document to the City Council for approval.
A seasoned city manager with decades of municipal management experience, during the third budget workshop meeting on June 27, 2017 Fisher extensively reviewed the budget request made by each of the city departments.
Addressing the council members present, several department directors, and a large contingent of Forney Police Officer Association members, City Manager James Fisher spent considerable time detailing the salary and benefit adjustments requested by each city department.
Fisher stated “I know we can’t add every single position. So I asked the departments to tell me what they need and what is required for them to do what you need to do."
Explaining Fisher said “We’ve got more than just public safety to consider. We've got all employees in this that we’ve got to consider. We’ve also got to know that whatever we do, it’s going to cost. We can’t just say ‘we’re going to cut taxes’. We’re going to cut this and this; because it won’t work. You saw in the Utility Fund, we’ve got two million dollars’ worth of items that need to be taken care of, so we have got to develop a plan.”
Fisher stated “And we haven’t even got to Capital Projects yet. If we go back to the General Fund; there is close to five million dollars in new employees and new equipment that people are asking for. We need these things, so how do we take care of this. Again, we can’t do this all in one year; we can’t do it all in two years.”
He said “I’m trying to put together a plan that is sustainable and a plan that will work. That’s why when we looked at the budget this year, we immediately jumped in and said “we’re going to do a 1% Cost of Living for everybody, we’re going to do 3% for all other employees or 4%, and then we are going to do 5% for public safety which is fire, communications and police.”
The most expensive department within the city budget, the Forney Police Department currently supports forty-four employees.
The police departments’ revised budget for 2017 was $4.2 million dollars, and its anticipated budget for 2018 is just over $4.8 million dollars.
The Police Department is comprised of twenty patrol officers, five police sergeants, two police lieutenants, two detention officers, nine communication officers, two record technicians, one communication supervisor, one Administrative Coordinator, one Captain and one Police Chief.
After an extensive employment search, Forney Police Chief Rob Sherwin was hired six months ago upon the retirement of former Police Chief Rick Barnes.
Numerous police department employees did not agree with the fact that City Manager James Fisher did not promote a Chief of Police from within the ranks of the FPD; even though it is widely known that former Chief Rick Barnes did not recommend any FPD officer to succeed him into the top position.
Public records indicate, three Police Officers, Lieutenant Mike Williams (26/10), Captain Thad Wilson (22/11) and Lieutenant Rocky Ray (21/7) each have more than twenty years of service with the department, and additionally eight police officers have between ten and twenty years of service.
Bringing a wealth of experience to the job, Police Chief Rob Sherwin also has a five year plan for improvement within the Forney Police Department.
While answering a question about how state or federal grants might subsidizes the FPD budget, Chief Sherwin said “Typically grants are attached to some type of activity like the crime scenes of children, things like that. But the city typically has to do a cash match or certificate, or its a time frame that after two years you have to accept the full cost of the employee.”
Reportedly, the Forney Police Association (FPOA) has procured a Compensation Study which they have provided to City Manager Fisher and Police Chief Rob Sherwin.
Apparently the FPOA’s study indicates that Forney Police Officers and communication personnel are underpaid, and the FPOA is lobbying for a 7% salary increase for all FPD personnel.
The Forney Police Officers Association (FPOA) was founded in 2010, and the organizations current President is Officer Curtis Billings.
While openly discussing the salary structure of the police department, City Manager Fisher said “There are a lot of different creative things that can help us, not only recruit the best people but retain the best people that we’ve got. And that’s what we’ve got to come up with; a plan to do that."