DiSpirito’s Budget Proposal Adds Three Police Officers to Rockville Force (VIDEO)
Rockville city residents will not face a property tax increase under the fiscal 2018 budget proposed by city manager Rob DiSpirito, which adds three police officers to the city force.
DiSpirito’s proposed spending plan totals $129.4 million, a 2.5 percent increase. The property tax rate will remain 29.2 cents per $100 assessed valuation, the same rate the city has had for nine previous years. Fiscal 2018 begins July 1.
DiSpirito said the budget cuts 3.5 full-time equivalent positions: an assistant to the city manager, a television production specialist, a full-time information technology position, and a half position for a multimedia journalist.
Each of the positions was vacant, DiSpirito said Monday, in an interview.
DiSpirito will present the budget Monday night. It is scheduled for adoption by the Mayor and Council on Monday, May 1.
City employees would receive a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment and an average 3 percent step increase.
Rockville’s police force has 59 officers—six command staff, 18 special operations personnel, and 35 officers assigned to the uniform patrol division, according to city data. The three extra officers are “a good start” toward moving Rockville police to the optimum number.
“Our staffing at the police department particularly on the patrol duties is too thin. We’ve been on the razor’s edge,” DiSpirito said.
One of the pressures on the city budget has been increasing employee health insurance costs, which increased 25 percent over the past year, he said. Employee health insurance constitutes 5 percent of the city’s general fund budget, city spokeswoman Marylou Berg said.
Pension obligations also are increasing, DiSpirito said. On top of that, the city’s pension board has become more conservative on the funds that have been invested, lowering projected earnings from 7.5 percent to 7 percent, he said. The effect is to add hundreds of thousands of dollars in impact.
“But health care and pension obligation, they loom large as an increasingly large share of our expenditures,” he said.
The city’s five-year capital budget adds:
- Lincoln Park Community Center parking lot expansion;
- Proposed Potomac Woods Community Center concept design and outreach;
- Rockville Senior Center Americans with Disabilities Act improvements;
- A traffic signal communications system;
- Stream restoration at Anderson Park;
- Concrete roof repairs and electrical upgrades at the city’s water treatment plant; and
- Information technology network security enhancements.
The capital budget also includes a $3.5 million debt issue for major improvements to the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center locker rooms.