I'd like to clear up some misrepresentations that appeared in a recent News article. I am the treasurer of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association and I know precisely how much the City of Buffalo has paid to the PBA membership.
The article attempted to portray the recent police contract as expensive and extravagant. Although there was a substantial raise for PBA members, this contract was not a one-way street. The city got a number of exempt management positions, one-officer cars and a change in work schedules.
These many changes brought tremendous returns to the city. As early as the 1998-1999 fiscal year, police protection in Buffalo was costing more than $58 million a year in PBA member salaries. I've tracked the earnings of the PBA membership for the past year, and the total is $57,234,200. That's less than it was six years ago.
The total PBA membership has dropped from 956 members in 1998 to 870 members when the contract was negotiated to 795 members today. We are approaching a 20 percent reduction from 1998 and a 10 percent cut since the contract was signed, and these numbers will grow each month.
The total budget for the Police Department has been about $72 million per year since the 1999-2000 fiscal year. This year, $68.5 million has been budgeted, and it appears we will come in substantially under budget (a surplus). This contract has allowed overtime to be cut by two-thirds and court time to be reduced by about one-half.
Through cooperation of the PBA membership, the city has been able to provide police protection for its citizens at a reasonable price. This contract was negotiated in good faith with the intent to save the city. PBA members have been and are doing their part.
William J. Misztal
Buffalo Police Department