News Articles Headlines from local media

Committee approves $143.5 M police budget

By Allan Benner, The Standard
Friday, November 24, 2017 5:17:11 EST PM

Niagara Regional Police are a step closer to approval of a $143.5-million budget — as well as the construction of a new St. Catharines police detachment — despite remaining frustration about an arbitrated settlement for police officers.

Niagara Regional Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch said the 2018 budget will cost $6.2-million more than this year — an increase of 4.5 per cent.

And much of that increase – which far exceeds the 1.5 per cent increase regional councillors requested – can be attributed to an arbitrated settlement, reached in April.

Despite facing wages increases of 1.9 per cent next year as a result of the arbitration, the police service managed to minimize the impact of the increase while continuing to enhance front line services.

For instance, MacCulloch said eight police officers currently working desk jobs will be redeployed to front line services, while civilians working within the police service will be redeployed to fill those positions. And through savings anticipated as a result of reduced overtime costs, an additional eight new officers will be hired.

“Ultimately, our proposed budget will see an increase of 16 officers back on the front line, and again meeting our goal of more boots on the ground,” MacCulloch said.

“As a result of your supporting our proposed budget, the Region and the citizens we serve will continue to realize a number of benefits.”

He said those benefits include enhanced community engagement, maintaining public safety and timely responses to service calls, while also maintain high risk investigations, and continuing to look at creative and innovating methods of addressing public safety.

St. Catharines Coun. Bruce Timms, however, wondered what other regional services would need to be axed to cover the police budget increase.

Otherwise, he wondered what police services would be lost if funding were to cut to meet the 1.5 per cent increase limit regional council requested.

The Region’s chief administrative officer Carmen D’Angelo told Timms that councillors cannot ask for changes regarding police operational matters.

“It’s my 20th freaking year at this council. I understand that,” Timms replied.

Nevertheless, he asked councillors to defeat the recommended motion and ask the police services board to return to council with options to further reduce the budget.

MacCulloch said the proposed budget “is what the command team and entire executive team believe is required to provide adequate and effective policing.”

Police services board chair Niagara Falls Coun. Bob Gale pointed out that the NRP “can’t be blamed” for an arbitration system that will increase the wages of highest ranking officers to $100,311 annually by 2019.

If the province’s system of “arbitration is broken, don’t blame the police for this,” he said.

Several councillors including Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop agreed.

“I don’t think it’s fair to punish Police Services Board for a system they have very little control over,” Redekop said.

Motions by Niagara Falls Coun. Selina Volpatti, to support the budget as presented, and to call on the provincial government to reform its arbitration system to ensure taxpayer affordability, were approved.

Prior to discussing the budget, police services board vice-chair Ken Gansel updated members of Niagara’s budget review committee on plans to build a new $19.8 million police station, replacing the aging facility at 68 Church St.

“After many months of hard work, the police service board has supported a recommendation … to move forward with the design of a One District building that will meet the funding envelope for a project that more importantly will meet the requirements and provide adequate and effective police services to residents and visitors alike,” Gansel said.

“There’s still lots of work to be done, putting the final designs, drawings and tendering for construction work.”

Gansel said a sod turning to begin construction could take place next June, and police hope to move into the new facility before the end of 2019.

Gale called continuing plans for the new police station “a good news story.”

“I believe the Niagara Regional Police Services operating budget … is equally a good news story.”

Gale, credited MacCulloch for his cost-cutting efforts, following his appointment to the NRP’s top job in September.

He said the chief saved $700,000 “right off the bat” by re-positioning officers and looking for efficiencies.

“We think we’re doing a great job with crime and that’s a credit to our service,” Gale said.

“I’m proud of this budget. I think it’s necessary. If you have a way for us to save money, please let us know because over 90 per cent of our budget is labour costs.”

The budget will be up for consideration at the Dec. 7 council meeting.
Last Modified: -/-
Related Articles: Jan. 23 letters: Municipal budgets and governance reform Region audit committee's establishes guidelines for municipal debt Region finalizes $1.1-billion budget for 2018 Region budget sent back for last-ditch cuts Police 'fed up' with budget complaints Public can give two cents on Region's budget Police, firefighters feel salary heat Region approves ferry funding Police war chest shot down amid growing rhetoric Contain runaway pay of Ontario's police and firefighters
niagara police

Latest Tweets

Contact Info

44 Berkley Dr. Unit 172, St. Catharines ON L2M 6W6
Phone: 905-934-6816
Cell: 905-651-2861