Victoria city councillors need more information to find funds for the provincially-mandated hire of six new Victoria police officers (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Six new police officers add $300,000 to Victoria’s 2019 budget

Amid budget decisions council received a provincial mandate to hire more officers for VicPD

The City of Victoria and the Township of Esquimalt must figure out how to fund six new police officers after the province mandated the municipalities uphold the Victoria Police Department’s 2018 budget request.

On Wednesday afternoon the Police Services Division wrote both municipalities with its decision to side with the VicPD request to hire six more officers, a request that was initially denied in 2018 due to Esquimalt’s decision to veto the cost.

RELATED: Province sides with VicPD in decision to hire six more officers

For 2019 this will total to $40,000 for Esquimalt, and $300,000 for Victoria, as recruitment of officers will likely not occur until September. In subsequent years, Victoria city council was told on Thursday morning that costs for these officers will be $667,000 in 2020 – due to a one-time cost of $60,000 – and $606,000 in subsequent years.

So far Esquimalt council has not heard a presentation on the budget from the police department, but Victoria has already voted to cut $858,000 and asked for a revised budget. The move is something that Chief Const. Del Manak had previously said could put up to nine jobs at risk.

READ MORE: Nine jobs at the Victoria Police Department at risk after budget decision

In a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, Victoria city councillors debated two aspects of the upcoming revisions.

First, the Victoria Police Board had asked the City to reconsider including the newly implemented Employer Health Tax onto the budget. VicPD was unhappy that it was the only city department responsible for fronting the cost, which totals $690,000, and was hoping to have it excluded from its budget. The $690,000 had already been calculated for in the City’s proposed 4.3 per cent tax hike.

“The Employers Health Tax is a game changer for us,” said Manak. “That obviously would significantly impact the reduction of services.”

Manak noted that in other municipalites, including Saanich, the city is responsibile for covering this cost, not the police department.

ALSO READ: Grumpy Taxpayers criticize Saanich police request for five per cent budget increase

Secondly, the City had to decide where to find the extra $300,000 for the six new officers.

Coun. Ben Isitt asked if there was any more funds available from newly-assessed revenues or surpluses, but was told by city staff that all new funds had already been allocated by council in previous meetings. This means that either funds will have to be re-allocated, or another tax increase could be put in place if budgets can’t be shuffled.

Isitt then called into question some of the proposed police costs, including whether the $885,000 to replace police vehicles was really necessary.

ALSO READ: VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

“If a family experiences a one-time unexpected expenditure it’s very common in households to hold off on expenditures; buy a used car… defer a vacation,” Isitt said. “In a $55 million budget, I think to find $600,000 worth of savings could be described as challenging, but not an impossible or unreasonable task.”

Coun. Jeremy Loveday felt that there wasn’t enough information available to decide what to do, expressing frustration that council still had not seen a revised police budget after two requests.

Ultimately council voted to have the police department draw up two new versions of a revised budget; one including the costs of the six officers and the Employer Health Tax, and one excluding the Employer Health Tax.

The police are expected to have the budget revisions ready by the end of March, or early April at the latest.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Langford considers regulating sale of spray paint following string of vandalism

Regulations could involve restricting sale to minors, locking up spray paint

French Open at Bear Mountain serves a winner

The US Open is scheduled for Sept. 3 to 8 on the hardcourts at Henderson Park in Oak Bay

Union Club of B.C. votes in its first female president

16-year member Grace Van den Brink previously served as vice president

Convicted drug trafficker asks Victoria courtroom for chance to ‘turn this around’

Horst Schirmer sentenced for convictions on five counts of possession related to trafficking

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read