Public safety is the number-one “general function” expenditure category (utilities are not considered a “general function”) with over $1 billion spent in FY 2021. Public safety costs include police, fire, ambulance, corrections, inspection and code enforcement activities, dispatch (such as 911), and any other activity that promotes the protection of life and property. Hazardous duty retirement through the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) and other employee benefit costs for public safety personnel are not included in direct expenditures chart below.
Several mandates exist related to public safety organization and personnel. These mandates are largely tied to former classification and deal with work schedules, collective bargaining, merit systems, and others. However, with the exception of former second and third class cities, the requirement to maintain municipal fire and police departments is entirely optional.