LOCKPORT - As it scrounges for money to balance a difficult 2013 city budget, the Common Council heard a pitch last week from Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert to hire a new officer and place him on traffic enforcement full time.
"There's a fairly excellent chance that could pay for itself," Eggert told the aldermen. "I was doing some research, and traffic people pay for themselves about 4-to-1."
The new officer, if the Council hires one, would be paid about $45,000 to start.
"I don't like to talk about revenue. I like to talk about safety," Eggert said.
Seconds later, however, he said, "I did a hypothetical model and came up with a $30,000 profit."
Lockport has some experience with the beneficial financial aspect of traffic enforcement. Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney showed the aldermen a chart showing the history of the budget revenue account called "fines and forfeited bail."
The record in that category came in 2007, the year former Traffic Capt. Ronald Vogt retired. Vogt worked a lot of extra patrol time that year, and as a result, the city raked in more than $450,000 in the fine account. That topped the second-best year by more than $100,000.
Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, R-5th Ward, suggested the city could score more money by installing stop-light cameras.
Alderwoman Anne E. McCaffrey, R-2nd Ward, asked if the city could promote lower speeds by buying electric signs that show drivers how fast they are going.
The chief also warned the Council that 2013 might be a difficult year for his 50-member department in terms of manpower. A lieutenant and a patrolman are expected to retire; one officer is expected to be deployed to Afghanistan for most of the year; another will spend two months at the FBI Academy; and two others will be having children and taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Given all that, Eggert is asking for an increase in his overtime budget from $275,000 to $300,000.