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

Sun on its way after Greater Victoria sees wettest July in six years

Environment Canada meteorologists say the drizzle is likely to end soon

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

Saanich samples the best of local food at Pepper’s Foods showcase.

Tenth annual showcase celebrates local food producers and vendors

After Victoria dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

The four-day festival highlights classic hot rods, with a special emphasis on cars built in 1932

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

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

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read