Mayor Tim Keller and his administration have set up a charitable foundation known as the One Albuquerque Foundation/City of Albuquerque Foundation. Under the federal Internal Revenue Service tax code, it is a 509(a)(3) charitable “supporting organization” which is defined as:
“… a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities. … This classification is important because it is one means by which a charity can avoid classification as a private foundation, a status that is subject to a more restrictive regulatory regime.”
Mayor Tim Keller in a statement proclaimed “Every day, people in Albuquerque ask how they can step up and be part of addressing our city’s greatest challenges.” Keller has identified crime, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), officer recruitment and retention as challenging. In response, the Keller Administration set up the foundation to give citizens the option to make donations to help support municipal government endeavors including APD police retention and recruitment.
A city spokesperson said the city estimates the One Albuquerque Foundation/City of Albuquerque Foundation could bring in $400,000 annually. According to spokesperson, the city says it intends to apply donations not just toward first responder police officer recruitment, but also homelessness reduction efforts, youth programming and workforce development.
The city is already operating the One Albuquerque Housing Fund, collecting donations for services such as housing vouchers and rental assistance to help the homeless. It raised upwards of $17,600 over eight months.
According to city officials, the new foundation has no designated staff, but its board has approved a contract for fundraising and will make any necessary staffing decisions. Further, city officials say the foundation will comply with the Inspection of Public Records Act, New Mexico’s sunshine law.
MASSIVE INVESTMENT IN POLICE RECRUITMENT, EXPANSION, AND RETENTION
APD’s goal is to spend $88 million dollars starting last year in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers. The massive investment is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates. Last year’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040. This year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget has funding for 1,040 sworn police.
The APD recruiting plan to grow the size of the department includes the city increasing police officer hourly pay and increasing longevity incentive pay. In 2018, the Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract. The approved contract provides that the pay rate for officers with zero to 4 years of experience went from $28 to $29 an hour. Starting pay for an APD officer right out of the APD academy is $29 an hour. Under the two-year contract, officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour. The new contract pays senior officers between $30 to $31.50 an hour. Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour. The rate for sergeants went from $32 to $35 an hour, and lieutenants pay went from $36.70 to $40.00 an hour.
The pay rate for patrol officers first class with zero to 4 years of experience is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly base salary calculated as follows: 40 hours a week X 52 weeks a year = 2,020 hours at $29.00 an hour = $60,320 yearly base salary. Officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour. Senior officers are paid between $30 to $31.50 an hour. Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour. The rate for sergeants is $35 an hour, and lieutenants are $40.00 an hour.
The approved longevity pay scale effective the first full pay period following July 1, 2019, and that will replace the 2018-2019 is as follows:
For 5 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 will be paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 will be paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 will be paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Public safety and police protection is not a charity, but an essential government service. Asking the public to make donations to be applied to police retention and recruitment is about as obscene as city government can get. Public safety and police protection is a government function and service paid by taxpayers and not a charitable function. It is highly questionable if a government entity can collect donations for retention and recruitment of police officers.
Albuquerque Police Officers are some of the best paid law enforcement in the country when you add their hourly pay, incentive pay and overtime pay, not to mention their defined benefit retirement program guaranteeing them as much as 90% of their base salary which the city matches what is paid by the employee.
The listing of the city’s 250 top wage earners includes 140 rank and file police officers who are patrol officers first class. The 140 top wage city hall wage earners employed by the Albuquerque Police Department include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 a year. 124 sworn police officers were paid between $101,633.11 to $192,037 for 2018
As noted, Police Officers beginning pay is $60,000 and with overtime can earn in excess of $100,000 a year. Sworn police are paid retention bonuses of between $4,000 to $16,000 a year. APD has a $177 million annual budget and already has significant funding in the millions for recruitment.
There may be nothing wrong asking for donations for charitable causes such as vouchers for helping the homeless, a true charitable cause, but that should be done with programs such as United Way, which the City has participated in before. But applying donations to an essential service such as public safety is as ridiculous as it gets, especially after the city council raised taxes by $55 million a year and especially Mayor Tim Keller breaking his pledge not to raise taxes unless there was a public vote on it.
You got to wonder if the Keller Administration will be issuing tin cups to all sworn police officers to attach to their utility belts so they can stand next to the panhandlers on medians and ask for donations for their retention bonuses.