As city agencies consider possible budget cuts, Madison’s police department has indicated it may not hire additional officers in the coming years.

The Madison Police Department has reportedly renegotiated its federal COPS grant, which committed the city to hire 15 additional police officers between 2001 and 2003.

The grant coincided with a city committee that determined the city’s police department was understaffed. But because the grant was renegotiated, the department is no longer committed to hiring the seven police officers authorized in the 2002 city budget, Assistant Police Chief Chuck Cole told the Capital Times Friday.

Cole also said the department has 12 police officer vacancies as a result of attrition and retirement. Typically, a new police academy class would begin in May.

The city faces a possible $16 million loss over the next two years stemming from Gov. Scott McCallum’s proposed cut in shared revenue under his state budget deficit proposal.

To cushion the financial blow, Mayor Sue Bauman directed all city agencies to determine where their budgets can be cut and submit suggestions for five percent savings to her office by Feb. 22.

The MPD is included in Bauman’s request for savings ideas. Ryan Mulcahy, assistant to the mayor, said Bauman’s office is considering the city’s commitment to the federal COPS grant.

“We are still looking at that — everything is on the table,” Mulcahy said.

But Mulcahy said he could not predict what cost-saving ideas the police department would present.

Once the mayor’s office receives agencies’ suggestions, Bauman will draft an amendment to the city’s already-passed 2002 budget to account for the possible $8.3 million financial hole, Mulcahy said.

Such an amendment will need a super-majority to pass in the council, requiring 15 alders voting in support of the amendment instead of the usual 11 needed for a passing vote.

“It’s a fairly stiff test to amend the city budget,” Mulcahy said. “We’re on very severe footing.”

Bauman also seeks budget ideas from Madison residents and has established a website for residents to voice their suggestions for approaching the city’s possible budget crunch.

“I want to hear from anyone who has a good idea on how we can achieve savings without cutting into the heart of our essential services,” she said. “I will not sacrifice the quality of life that Madison has developed. Everything’s on the table, nothing’s off limits, but we will preserve the quality of life that makes Madison the great place it is.”

City officials are requesting residents to e-mail cost-savings suggestions to [email protected]