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Boston mayor rejects city council’s cut to police overtime

Cutting police overtime is a bad idea because the law states that OT must be honored — no matter what, the mayor said

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Photo/Boston Police Department

By Joe Dwinell
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Mayor Michelle Wu is pushing back at the City Council’s rewrite of her $4 billion budget, saying cutting police overtime is a bad idea because the law states OT must be honored — no matter what.

This would force the city to “repeat the pattern over several years of overspending” as protests, parades, crime, hurricanes or nor’easters — along with a long list of other events — require police protection, Wu wrote to the council Monday.

As the Herald reported last week, the newly empowered City Council unanimously approved an amended $4 billion budget for the coming year — with changes including hacking $13.3 million out of the police budget and $1.2 million from fire.

“I cannot include a false reduction to the budget that would create unpredictability elsewhere,” Wu wrote of the cut to cops. “We will continue to work through leadership, organizational improvements, and collective bargaining to rein in overtime.”

She did offer to delay the next police recruiting class this fall by two months and cut the police equipment budget by $200,000 to save more than $1.2 million.

“Should net state revenues come in higher than currently budgeted over the next few months as the state budget is finalized, this will be a top priority to restore and accelerate our recruit class,” she added.

Wu did infuse the budget with $1.5 million extra over last fiscal year’s budget to “right-size” council staff wages. How councilors doll out that cash is up to them.

The 13-member council now needs a two-thirds majority to override the mayor’s new budget. If not, theirs will win the day. That’s nine votes the mayor is now lobbying for.

City residents last year granted the council the power to amend the city budget, whereas in the past, the body’s only leverage was to vote the mayor’s budget up or down.

Most of the money taken from the police OT budget was shifted to youth jobs initiatives and the council pay bump while another $600,000 from the BPD would go to add staff to the new city Office of Black Male Advancement.

“This is an opportunity for us to find the dollars to make it happen,” City Councilor Julia Mejia said last week, adding with a smile, “It better come back as is.”

The $1.33 billion schools budget passed on a 10-3 vote.

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