Thirty-seven years ago, when I represented the city of Schenectady in all of its labor matters, I was shocked to discover that no one had ever “costed out” the price of labor. The range ran from about 27 percent over base salary for blue collar workers to about 87 percent for police and fire, with benefits, including health insurance, sick leave, workers’ compensation, retirement pay and other state or federal mandated expenses. So when the City Council and the mayor consider the city budget, they must consider whether overtime actually decreases that percentage, as opposed to new hires, along with the other services the municipality must provide.It takes about two years for a new police officer to be fully capable on the street — six months of school, then ride-alongs and on-the-job training. That, of course, doesn’t speak to deployment: the need for detectives and the overtime generated when there’s a particularly heinous crime or the urgent need for boots on the street during special events and protests.We all want the protective services, police, fire, paramedics, correctional officers and others. Are people willing to pay for full staffing? (The chief says 14; my estimate is 20 or 25 more officers.) Would everyone pay an extra $100 per year in taxes if it meant prompter response times? And how does that impact any tax cap or other services that municipalities must provide? And what about the added expense of more police cars or fire equipment?Bruce S. TrachtenbergNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Niskayuna girls’ cross country wins over Bethlehem Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionOnce again, The Gazette headlines police overtime, sensationalizing the incomes of a few, without delving into the cost-benefit analysis and germane factors, and only touching lightly upon under staffing.
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