15 May 2007

Reading between the lines, Part IV - Police & Fire

Gauging the effects a project like the Ballpark Village will have on a city the size of Fremont is difficult to understand or project. On one hand, a large influx of new residents could severely strain already scarce resources. On the other hand, it's possible that new tax revenues could make up for the need for new resources.

One thing's for certain: Fremont is very stretched out city as it is. That doesn't mean its geographical size or sprawl - it's truly one of the least staffed city governments in the Bay Area. According to the city's
proposed 2007-08 budget, here's how Fremont's staffing per 1,000 residents stacks up against other Bay Area cities (discounting some services Fremont does not have in common with the other cities):
  • Fremont: 4.21 positions/1,000 residents
  • Palo Alto: 11.04
  • Oakland: 9.40
  • Newark: 7.01
  • San Jose: 6.27
  • Sunnyvale: 6.15
  • Pleasanton: 5.51
  • Livermore: 5.34
  • Walnut Creek: 5.16
  • Union City: 4.82
Fremont's ratio can be partially attributed to efficiency. In some departments, staffing is extremely low. This phenomenon is best represented by Fremont Police's ratio of sworn officers per 1,000 residents.
  • Fremont: 0.9 sworn officers/1,000 residents
  • San Jose: 1.4
  • Oakland: 1.8
  • San Francisco: 2.8
  • Pleasanton: 1.2
  • Alameda County: 1.4
  • National average: 2.5
It could be said that Fremont's historically low crime rate has reduced the need for a large police force, but Fremont's also notorious for its "verified response" burglar alarm policy, where officers do not automatically check out tripped alarms unless affected business/homeowners also call in to follow up. It should be said that the only jurisdications I found within the state that hit the national average are San Francisco and Los Angeles. On the flip side, the police department at college town Davis has a similar ratio to Fremont's.

The addition of 8,787 residents via the residential portion of the Ballpark Village would necessitate at least 9 additional officers to keep up with the low officer-resident ratio. A proportional number of administrative positions would also be required, perhaps 3-5. Given the greater amount of activity because of the retail/entertainment component (not including the ballpark), additional patrols and/or personnel would be required. According to budget docs, each position costs approximately $145,000. So adding 13 additional positions would cost $1,885,000, not accounting for inflationary adjustments.
Now let's look at the fire department. They are projected to have 161 full time positions for the 2007-08 budget year, 140 of which area assigned to Operations/Emergency duty. They've also been given a $1 million grant from Homeland Security, to be used to fill 8 additional firefighter positions for 2007-08. Even with that bump, Fremont will have a ratio of 0.7 firefighters per 1,000 residents, compared to a national recommended standard of 2-3 per 1,000 residents. Budget costs per position are similar to that of police, so using the 0.7/1,000 ratio, the ballpark village would need 6 firefighters and 1 administrative position. Those 7 positions would cost $1 million.

Fremont Fire has 10 stations spread out among its 77 square miles. It's likely that the village would just use the existing station in the area, Fire Station 7, on Grimmer and Auto Mall. If the demand is great enough for a new station in the area, there would be serious capital costs associated with it.
Combined, fire and police services would cost $2.9 million. Compare that to the numbers from my
Part II post. After the $1 million that the A's would pay to offset game-related costs, the city would get an average of $2.6 million. However, that figure is reflective of "net new to Fremont" sales revenues. By the time the residential buildout is completed, the city would actually get $3.8 million per year after the $1 million offset, which should cover police and fire. City services are more than just police and fire, but since police/fire takes up 81% of General Fund expenditures, it's a decent guess that the $900,000 remainder should be able to cover the rest.

The above is a simplified analysis of budgetary impacts. It should be used as a guide for discussions that will be better framed by other, more official impact analyses to be released by the city. The next installment will cover gameday expenses.


Jeffrey said...

Thanks ML. Excellent analysis using real numbers. You should run a news agency or something.

I look forward to reading the day of game impact post.

anon-a-mouse said...

Very interesting, ML. I didn't realize how lean the city of Fremont runs things. From what I've heard, the budget situation in that city is getting healthier, so they may be willing to take a bit of risk for something that could pay off big down the road.

FYI: your legend is growing. I've seen your blog mentioned on several random boards, including a Niners board I read this morning. Keep up the great work!

Jeff P. said...

I am in agreement with the other posters that this was an excellent thumbnail sketch of Freemont city services. It sounds as though Freemont takes a lean and efficient view towards providing city services. I would be very interested to know how the pay scale for firefighters and police compares to other Alameda county and bay area cities. I would imagine that because this is an inter county move for the team and the county has a vested tax interest in the A's that they would be open to the notion of supplamenting police services in the new venue. It sounds as though Fremont is pursuing the best of both worlds. They will be attracting revenue from the other bay cities without the incumbent requirement for city services aside from the village. The village will consume most of the services, especially police. Believe int or not, the games themselves will present very little challenges as far as policing goes. The new reidents are another matter. You can remove the venue itself from the police equation. Those are scheduled events that will be staffed by overtime and will most likely those costs will be absorbed the A's and the county.