The Minneapolis Police Department is expected to run $1.9 million over budget this year, driven by overtime costs and extra staff put in place during the Super Bowl and the X-Games.
But city officials on Tuesday were fast to point out that the expenses would likely be absorbed by a Super Bowl sales taxes bump.
The department is expected to spend $175.6 million for the fiscal year, coming in at $1.9 million over its $173.7 million budget, according to new projections from the city’s finance department. The projections were a part of a second quarter 2018 financial report presented to the Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday.
“The Police department expects to come in $1.9 million over budget due to payments to other agencies and overtime related to the Super Bowl and SWAT for the X-Games,” read an earlier draft of the report released on Monday. In the final version that was presented at Ways & Means, the wording was revised to “large planned events.”
Still, overall, Minneapolis fared better than recent host cities, officials said.
Using private dollars, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee reimbursed the city $7.4 million after the game — about half of it went toward the staggering security operation, which involved officers from more than 60 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. This included overtime.
Mark Ruff, the city’s chief financial officer, said the current overtime costs are not directly connected to the Super Bowl but are tangentially related. For instance, the department placed a moratorium on days off during the lead-up to the Super Bowl. Afterward, officers worked overtime to cover for vacation days later taken.
The city did not track less tangible costs like regular city staff time spent on game-related work, and budget officials said that would be covered by the boost in sales tax revenue. The tax bump amounted to about $2.8 million.
A police spokeswoman said that the $1.9 million figure was “an estimate and the actuals may be more or less than the current projection.”
“Regarding the projection, we anticipate that most of these costs include overtime and the purchase of supplies and equipment that will be used in future years,” Sgt. Darcy Horn said in an e-mailed statement.
The department didn’t respond to further questions about how much of the projected overrun can be traced to the Super Bowl.
Security-related overruns for a major sporting event like a Super Bowl are not uncommon, given the logistical complexity of planning of such an operation, said University of Minnesota sociology professor Doug Hartmann.
“It’s hard to say with those overruns whether it was the results of actual more work than had happened or if they hadn’t properly planned how much was going to be needed,” said Hartmann, whose research focuses on the interaction of sports and society.
“We typically underestimate what these kind of ancillary expenses are going to be and who’s going to pick those up: traffic control, public safety, and the work of the police is one of those.”
Council Member Linea Palmisano said that the discussion comes against a backdrop of concerns about police staffing and overtime. Supervisors have for months been instructed to be more selective about overtime, she said she was told.
“We’re always in the hole for police overtime, that’s why I support having additional cops,” said Palmisano, who sits on both the Public Safety and Ways & Means committees.
“I think that the overreaction of having so many cops in an area after an officer-involved shooting is another reason why you end up with a spike in police overtime sometimes.”
Since taking office, Mayor Jacob Frey has said that staffing shortages are preventing officers from building better community ties. But after lobbying for months for more cops, his 2019 budget proposal didn’t include funding for any additional sworn officers.
Instead, Frey proposed $1.1 million to convert eight non-policing positions now held by officers to civilian positions.
Ruff said that savings elsewhere will reduce the overall impact. Continued hiring to replace officers who have retired or left will reduce overtime costs as the year progresses, he said.
“We knew later on in the year that there would be some secondary effects,” said Ruff, referring to the planning for the Super Bowl. “I’m not concerned about it.”
Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report.