I'm sorry to tell you this, but adding a meaningful number of police to the streets will require a willingness to consider a tax increase or some other clever revenue-raising plan. The money to dramatically boost the police ranks simply doesn't exist in the city budget, and the state's hard cap on property taxes is already affecting things such as the frequency of new police recruit classes. It's only going to get worse in the years to come.Apparently Tully doesn't recall the columns he wrote four years ago defending then-Mayor Bart Peterson's 65% increase in the local income tax--remember, the one that was suppose to put more police officers on the street to fight crime. Tax increases aren't the answer; it's a question of spending priorities. Whenever the city wants to spend more money on the sports teams, the convention center, wasting money on unnecessary downtown improvements or simply giving away millions of taxpayer dollars to private developers, the money is always there. When it comes to funding basic city services, we are always told we must choose between higher taxes or reduced services. We fell for that four years ago, and what we learned was there still wasn't enough money to hire more police officers until a federal grant was found to fund new police. Now we learn the city is cheating on the way it counts police officers--counting park rangers as police officers--simply to keep the numbers high enough to keep the federal dollars flowing.
Tully naturally blames the lack of funding for police officers on property tax caps, but the taxpayers were hit with yet another tax increase, a one percentage point increase in the state sales tax, as a trade off for property tax caps. Then there was more than a half billion dollars of the city's public safety pension debt the state assumed, which freed up another $20 million a year in the city's budget to spend elsewhere that was one of the reasons we were told we had to raise the local income tax 65% four years ago. Is Tully's memory really that short?