Saanich police board members Lori Staples, Irwin Henderson, Tim Kane, Mayor Richard Atwell, Glen Crawford, Bruce Halsor, and Mary Collins have told Saanich council that a “status quo” budget would lead to the “loss of significant engagement and crime prevention programming.” Saanich Police

Saanich police board insists on provisional budget

Saanich Police rejects demands by council to trim back budget increase

The independent board overseeing Saanich Police has rejected a request from Saanich council to cut back the 2018 police budget, leaving councillors with some potentially difficult choices as they meet this week to finalize the 2018 municipal budget.

“While the [board] fully understand and supports [council]’s commitment to constrain the Municipal tax lift and to limit the cost of policing, the [board] is mandated to maintain the level of policing required to meet existing and new demands for services, in terms of both legal requirements and social developments,” reads a signed letter to council from the six members of the police board, including its chair, Mayor Richard Atwell.

Saanich councillors last month asked the police board to revise its provisional budget, which had called for a tax lift of 4.63 per because of changing policing needs that require six additional staff. Saanich councillors subsequently asked the police board to limit this increase to 3.5 per cent, citing financial constraints. But this request met with warnings of “unacceptable service reductions.”

Council subsequently softened its stance by signalling the police board that it would accept a “status quo” budget with an increase of 3.81 per cent. But after a meeting with council earlier this month, the police board rejected this figure as “not sufficient” to meet departmental needs in insisting on the original figure of 4.63 per cent. “The [board] is optimistic that upon reflection, and after its deliberation of the entirety of the [municipal] budget, [council] can fund the provisional budget as submitted.”

The board’s letter notes that the budget as presented represents the funding necessary to meet the “on-going and critical needs required to maintain an adequate level of policing” including in community engagement, crime prevention and youth programming.

If Saanich were to insist on the figure of 3.81 per cent, the police department would be required to eliminate three positions and the summer student program. Two proposed regional police positions would also go unfilled.

According to the letter, the positions proposed for elimination would lead to the “loss of significant community engagement and crime prevention programming.”

But if the police board continues to resist measures to trim the proposed increase beyond a certain figure, it also appears conscious that its proposed figure of 4.63 per cent lacks political support by suggesting various alternatives.

“[If] council chooses not to fund the proposed provisional budget, the [board] asks [council] to consider a lift of 4.36 per cent…over the 3.81 per cent,” the letter reads. “This equates to only .15 per cent increase to the overall budget. This amount would avoid layoffs and keep students employed over the summer.”

Surplus or one-time funding could also be used to fund the summer student program, if council rejects the figure of 4.36 per cent, the police board said.

The board also promised that it, “working with staff, will work diligently to find cost containment strategies” that would would moderate future cost increases.

The final size of the police budget is perhaps the most pressing, but hardly the only issue facing councillors as they meet Tuesday for what could be final budget deliberations.

Heading into the meeting, councillors face the prospect of having to approve a budget that proposes to raise property taxes by 3.7 per cent. But this figure could well change, as several councillors have called for a lower figure. Staff have also prepared several reports that outline the state of Saanich’s annual surplus and its use, the future of a fund dedicated to infrastructure replacements, and the future of a senior’s subsidy for recreation users.

Just Posted

Province now allowing tent city campers to stay at Goldstream Park

Contrary to earlier reports, Ministry of Environment says there is no hard deadline for campers to leave, park open to public

Saanich offers land for housing for the homeless

Unclear many units of supportive housing the province will build in Saanich

B.C. seniors use antipsychotics more than any other province

One out of four residents is receiving antipsychotics without a supporting diagnosis

MISSING: 26-year old Victoria man Gregory Partington

Partington was last see on September 19

Religious institutions in Saanich may have to justify their permissive tax exemptions

Non-profit organizations including religious institutions in Saanich may have to justify their… Continue reading

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Driver’s warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Saanich mayoral candidates prepare for first roundtable

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates at Thursday’s forum

Former VP of lululemon joins B.C. cannabis cultivation facility

Kerry Biggs will be the Chief Financial Officer of True Leaf, in Lumby

Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

People on opioid agonist treatment face lower risks of overdosing, BC Centre on Substance Use says

Around the BCHL – Trail Smoke Eater grad to captain NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies

Around the BCHL is a regular look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Thieves escape after man claims his wife is giving birth

RCMP searching for suspects in brazen daytime break in

Rural Canada Post carriers could see 25-per-cent pay hike: spokesman

An arbitrator has released a ruling in a long-standing pay equity dispute at Canada Post

Seventh day of searching for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts are concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Freeland brings optimism back to NAFTA talks

NAFTA talks resume in Washington

Most Read