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Chief: Risks in reduced budget

DRPS drops request for 20 new frontline staff to meet increase limit set by regional council

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Durham’s police services board has approved the proposed 2020 budget, but the Chief of Police warns it could have potential consequences.

At its most recent meeting, the board approved a budget of $213.23 million, representing an increase of 3.2 per cent over 2019.

The region is in the process of approving their 2020 budget guidelines, but had already asked for Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) to cap their increase at the 3.2 per cent mark.

But DRPS had previously asked for a budget increase of 7.05 per cent from the region.

According to Police Chief Paul Martin, there were “risks inherent with meeting the guideline” to half of what they were looking for.

There were losses with meeting the cap, as DRPS was looking to add 37 new positions, including 20 frontline officers in 2020. However they’ve all been cut from the budget.

Other areas which saw reductions were post-employee benefits and WSIB costs ($1.5 million), technology replacements, debt servicing, and the maintenance and repair of buildings.

Cost recoveries of approximately $700,000 were found in the region’s 911 management board budget.

Martin said putting off repair and replacement to equipment and buildings can only delay the inevitable costs.

A staff report given to the board also takes note of the risks to future services and programs in the new budget.

“Capital infrastructure funding is not sufficient and continues to pose increasing risks, as critical components to facilities are stretched far beyond their recommended replacement dates,” reads the report.

The board is now going to wait for the results from the upcoming regional council meeting on Nov. 27 to determine if an increased guideline amount might be provided.

Board members hope an increase will help to bring in the currently scrapped 20 additional frontline officers.

It’s believed this will cost about $1.49 million.