HOLMES BEACH – The gloves are off, said Police Chief Jay Romine, after the latest salvo from Commissioner Al Robinson.
“I’m tired of theses gross inaccuracies, this garbage with no basis in fact getting shotgunned out there and hoping it sticks and getting people all riled up, ” Romine said. “It’s not fair to the employees; it’s damaging to morale. I’m tired of it and my people are tired of it.”
At the Nov. 23 city commission meeting, Robinson passed out a paper claiming that it costs the city $171,000 per police officer. Romine said Robinson got this figure by dividing the entire operating budget of the police department by 12.
“The total operating budget includes not only personnel costs, but capital expenditures and daily costs of doing our job, which is public safety,” Romine explained.
“I’m not sure where the number 12 came in this ‘formula’, since the police department employs 21 people, including the communications center, which happens to be the only one on Anna Maria Island that is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 day a year.”
Romine said if you divide the operating budget by the correct number of employees, it gives you a figure of $97,851, which also is misleading because it would mean “that each employee partially bears the costs of the maintenance of the equipment, the building, the utilities and every other cost that is associated with the police department budget.
“I would dare say that if our employees were averaging almost $98,000 per year in compensation, recruitment would be at an all time high and would never be an issue.”
He said using Robinson’s “formula” to calculate the cost of putting a public works employee on the street would give you a figure of $173,697 per employee. That includes using the correct number of employees, he noted.
Romine also took issue with information that Robinson is distributing that says the job of a garbage collector is more dangerous than a police officer or firefighter.
“Police work and firefighting are dangerous, demanding professions,” he stressed. “And garbage men were off on Thanksgiving, while my men were out here protecting you and your property, as they do 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
He said Robinson has never come into the police department to talk with him about the budget or learn how it operates and noted, “The only thing he knows about the police department comes from the inside of a bar.”
Romine invites anyone with questions to contact him at 708-5404.