Monday, July 16, 2007

Cost Recovery Program savings, er, spending

A couple of local blogs in the Burghospree noted the PG story ( on the Cost Recovery Program (Burgh Report and Pittsburgh Comet). That program is a surcharge on off duty policeperson’s wages when working security at a bar, a Steelers game, the Giant Eagle or what have you. Since its start in early April, the program has raised apparently close to 175,000 dollars. So you think the city would be sitting pretty if there is another lawsuit like the recent one that involved a cost to the city of two hundred grand.

Well, actually, it turns out the city, or at least the cops, are spending the money. If a cop arrests someone while working the second job, his overtime for the time he has to be in court is paid from this pool. Apparently some of the money is also being used for training and uniforms.

Really, you can hardly blame the Department of Public Safety, although someone will. In the city’s cash strapped environment, a hundred and seventy five thousand extra dollars is like a gift from heaven. But that sort of short-sighted thinking may leave the city having to dip back into general fund for the settlement of brutality lawsuit. I don’ know if it was the executive or legislative branches of the city that decided it is ok not to save for a rainy day, even if that’s what the fund is for. My guess is the city administration itself made a tough decision and spent the money. Council needs to step up here, spell out why the program exists and then pass a rule that the money should be saved.

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