The Police Budget was presented to Council on February 7 and as measured by Cobourg’s Treasurer, the increase in spending for 2019 will be 1.42%. Police Salaries make up a large part of the budget and they increased significantly more than that (details below) but the use of tiered Policing and better management kept the increase low. One major factor was a savings starting in 2016 of $1.7M due to outsourcing of dispatch and 911 services to Owen Sound. The Chief said that the cost of policing in Cobourg continues to be well below the provincial average. The other highlight of the meeting was the fast increase in income from “Corporate Services” – otherwise known as the service that does Police Record Checks for Police forces across Canada.
The Chief started his presentation responding to a critique of Police spending in a letter by Warren McCarthy. He is obviously pleased with his success in keeping costs down and felt Warren had misunderstood Financial Information Returns (FIR’s) for Protection Services. Chief Kai said he would provide Warren with a detailed response after the Police Board meeting on February 19. (Meanwhile see his presentation in the Links below).
The Chief said that tiered Policing requires a culture shift but it was working well with volunteer Auxiliary Constables and lower paid Special Constables doing tasks that they are capable of thereby relieving highly trained, armed and higher paid sworn Officers who would otherwise be assigned to these tasks. The Police are also partnering with other organizations. One example is Cornerstone: the Police provide them with $30k and in return have access to the services of a specialist who would otherwise cost them $80K per year. They also work with Rebound Child and Youth Services to help children under 12. (Children under 12 cannot be charged with a crime – they are outside the Criminal Code).
In response to the concern that the Town has no say in the Police Budget, the Chief pointed to the fact that Police (actually just the Chief) report to the Board which has three representatives appointed by the Town and 2 Provincial representatives so they have a majority say. However, Council may not review the budget line by line although on Thursday the Police did provide a good amount of detail (see link below).
Provincial legislation mandates that municipalities supply buildings, vehicles and other Capital items but in Cobourg, in the period 2004 to 2018, $5.7M in Capital came from Corporate Services. This included a $1.6M investment in the Venture 13 building.
Corporate Services is expected to expand some more from the $3.2M revenue in 2018 (see the graph below); Deputy Chief Paul Vandegraff will be spending 60% of his time with it this year. There are currently 41 staff working there with an error rate of virtually zero (< 0.25%).
Chief Kai Liu was also pleased with what the other graph shows. The long term increase in the Police Budget since his arrival in 2012 is significantly less than CPI and since most Police Costs are salaries, surprisingly significantly less than cumulative salary increases. It’s not just tiered policing that made this happen, but also better management.
The Police expect to spend $955K on Capital items including building renovations, computers, vehicles and other equipment with only $25K coming from the Town, most of the rest from their Corporate services operation and some from other reserves.
Because the format of the meeting was “Committee of the Whole”, there was a Q & A session. I asked one short question to clarify the actual total estimated spending increase (1.42%). Bryan Lambert wanted to ask the Police some clarifying questions but the session was only for asking questions of Council.
Police Budget presentation – hosted on Town Portal