The body in charge of the Victoria Police Department’s budget has signalled it’s not interested in budging from a proposed 9.55 per cent increase.
The Victoria and Esquimalt police board, in a letter to Victoria council, has rejected a call for the local force to follow in the city’s footsteps and strive for a budget increase that doesn’t exceed the local inflation rate of 6.96 per cent.
Such a move would mean knocking down the requested $6-million hike to a maximum increase of about $4.3 million for the capital city’s force.
“Although the board acknowledges the difficult choices council has to make during this inflationary period, the board is still of the position that the budget it has presented is one that meets the legislative requirements under the Police Act to provide adequate and effective policing to the city and township,” Doug Crowder, the board’s finance committee chair, said in a letter being presented to council on Monday (Feb. 27).
“Therefore, the board is not prepared to amend the budget as requested by council.”
Victoria initially tabled a draft plan that would see an almost nine per cent rise in property taxes. Council has since given interim approval to cutting some department budgets and some planned studies. The city is also considering 50-cent raise to hourly parking rates in a bid to bring its overall budget increase back in line with inflation.
Crowder’s letter states the police board won’t preemptively be making any adjustments to its draft financial plan.
“Should council choose to pursue their right to remove budget line items, please accept the board’s offer to work together to identify areas within the budget that, if reduced, would have the least direct operational impact,” Crowder wrote.
The letter noted the Police Act allows council to not approve VicPD budget requests. The police board appealed to the province when Esquimalt did just that last year. B.C.’s director of police services ultimately decided Esquimalt had to pay for its share of the additional resources.
Payroll accounts for 80 per cent of VicPD’s $69.4 million draft budget. While proposed operational costs come in at $11.3 million, the department also looks to spend $3.3 million more on ordinary salary and benefit increases this year, bringing that total to $53.4 million. The draft budget states 5.2 of the 9.55 per cent increase is dedicated to salaries.
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