NEWORLEANS -- The police and fire departments in New Orleans are having a tough time sticking within their budgets.
Out of a $119 million budget, the NOPD is now running close to $4 million deficit. The NOFD, which received an $83 million line item is about $1.3 million in the hole.
'We're in tough budget times,' said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 'We always have been. We're going to be in this type of situation for the next couple of years. So, we will continue to manage on a day to day basis and make sure when the books close, we're good.'
According to the city, overtime, slow reimbursements from security districts using NOPD off-duty officers and higher than expected benefits are straining the police department budget.
Fraternal Order of Police attorney Raymond Burkhart says limited taxpayer dollars need to be prioritized. He says right now there are too many commanders and not enough patrol officers.
'It does not cost as much to pay a police officer who's new on the street or even has 5 years on the street as it does for say 8 or 9 district commanders or bureau commanders,' Burkhart said. 'If we get the bang for our buck and we use the money wisely and really put it on the street serving citizens, we think we don't have the shortfalls that we do now.'
According to the city, higher healthcare costs and lower than expected retirement are to blame for the fire departments money woes.
Fire union president Nick Felton says the problems stems from the city budgeting for 722 firefighters at a time when there were 752 on the payroll.
'You've got about 30 people more than you really had planned on, starting off on day one you're already in a hole,' said Felton.
Felton fears the money woes will lead deep cuts and possible layoffs next year.
'That's means we shut down engine houses. That means we reduce services to fire fighters and services to people that we serve in this community.'
Mayor Landrieu says both the police and fire budget deficits are manageable.
'I've always said as we get through the next couple of years, everybody's going to have to give,' said Landrieu. 'Either in inconvenience or more or less services. We just want to make sure it all fits in the bucket at the end of the year and we'll continue to do that.'
City council budget hearings are expected to begin next month.