The Victoria Police Department is seeking almost $70 million in 2023 as compensation increases continue to dominate its budget compared to proposed boosts to operational costs.
Payroll accounts for 80 per cent of the $69.4 million draft budget put forth at the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board meeting this week. That proposal translates to a 9.55 per cent increase, totalling about $6 million, over last year’s spending from the capital core’s force.
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.
The department said its Worksafe BC premiums are expected to rise again due to its experience level and an increase in time loss due to work-related injuries. It also expects health and dental premiums to increase while VicPD said it’s accounted for rising Canadian Pension Plan rates.
Outside of salaries, benefits and overtime, Victoria police’s proposed improvements to its operations make up a smaller share of the overall budget increase this year. Operational investments between 2021 and 2022 were 66 per cent of the budget hike, while 2023 would see 28 per cent of the proposed increase be allocated for those resources.
“Similar to the 2022 budget, this provisional budget for 2023 represents another incremental step toward reversing the previously underfunded police budget to provide the responsive and proactive police services that both municipalities are demanding,” Doug Crowder, the board’s finance committee chair, said in the provisional budget.
The department seeks more funding for three more officers, at a price of $425,000, along with four more new civilian staff at a cost of $322,000. Those civilian positions include a financial analyst, a police file analyst, a records supervisor and a training specialist.
VicPD in recent years has highlighted operational challenges it said were caused by officer vacancies, stemming from work-related injuries and other impacts. The department continues to advertise in various spots that it’s seeking new members and at one point in 2021 was offering a $20,000 incentive in a bid to entice new officers.
Other notable bumps from 2022 expenditures include $940,000 to human resources, $847,000 to the investigative division, $822,000 for patrol, $585,000 for the information management division and $553,000 for the community engagement division.
Last year’s budget process was thrown into uncertainty when Esquimalt council voted against funding their portion of VicPD’s $1.3-million request for additional staff, before the province eventually ruled in favour of the police board’s appeal – forcing the smaller community to pay its share.
Esquimalt has argued it’s overpaying for the police services it actually receives and therefore subsidizing Victoria. During 2023 budget consultations, the township said its priorities included crime prevention and officers being more visible in its community.
The police board’s Tuesday (Jan. 17) meeting has not been publicly posted.
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