Ottawa Police Chief says balancing budget a 'challenge' this year
The police will hit the mayor's two-per-cent increase cap in 2017. But they don't expect to be able to do so forever.
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Ottawa Police have hit Mayor Jim Watson’s two-per-cent tax increase cap in their budget, but Chief Charles Bordeleau said it was a “challenge,” warning the board was only able to do it this year by “pushing some of the costs out.”
The police are calling for an $8.5-million increase to their budget, bringing the total to $330 million.
Earlier in the fall, Bordeleau had expressed concern about how the budget was coming together, but was more confident in the outlook than he was in September. “It’s less risky,” he said. “Certainly, we went back to find a different way of doing it […] there’s still some risk to it, but it’s within an acceptable range.”
“More importantly, what this budget does is it maintains the services that the community expects, it continues our hiring plans for the 75 officers, with the final 25 in 2018, and it also deals with some of the base budget issues we’ve had over the last couple of years,” said Bordeleau.
But the budget this year appears to be balanced largely on the backs of the taxpayers of the years ahead. The board is forecasting that it will require a 4.1 per cent increase in 2019.
“When we sit down to talk about the 2019 budget,” said Bordeleau, “we’ll have that discussion with the board for our forecast requirement of 4.1 per cent.”
If approved, this year’s budget will mean 25 more officers joining the force in 2018.
It also anticipated some of the new challenges police will be facing next year, including $500,000 set aside, as a one-time cost, for training officers to deal with the legalization of cannabis.
The police board will bring this draft budget to the finance and audit committee on November 20, and to city council for final approval on December 13.