City staff examine police budget

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Police Service's 2006 budget may not be saved from councillors' ax after all.

Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead wants all boards, agencies and even the city to impose a freeze on any cost of living (COL) increases that affect non-union employees. His proposal would also affect the police budget.

"We have to push our noses to the grindstone for this budget," he says. "I respect what (Police Chief Brian)Mullan is arguing about his budget. But I want all agencies to do their part."

Councillors last week approved in principle the $107-million police budget, a 4.6 per cent increase from last year. Politicians have demanded that all boards and agencies, such as the Hamilton Public Library and the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. slice their budgets to a 3 per cent increase. For the police, it would mean carving off another $1.6 million, resulting in laying off about 66 police officers, said Mullan.

"It's a no-brainer (to approve the police budget)," said Hamilton councillor Sam Merulla. "This is about community safety."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson agreed, saying the police budget is a special case for politicians and the community. But even Jackson is talking about reducing the agencies' budgets, including the library.

Library officials argue any cuts would mean staff layoffs and library branches shutting down.

Meanwhile, politicians agreed with Mullan that Hamilton is receiving a great deal by cost-sharing with other levels of government to fund the salaries of the 66 police officers.

In addition, the police service has the option to appeal council's decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which can impose the police services budget on the city.

"If you compare the Hamilton Police Service to what other services are doing, Hamilton will have a small increase," said Jackson.

Preliminary numbers indicate Halton police will have a budget hike of about 9.6 per cent, York Region is at 8.9 per cent and Waterloo is at 8.1 per cent. Niagara Region's budget is about 4.6 per cent. Mullan said the major factor for the police service budget hike is salaries and benefits, which account for about 86 per cent. Fuel costs and fleet maintenance costs have also increased.

"Council has been wonderful in supporting us in the past," he said. "I'm not thinking we are going down any roads (to be cut). We are always trying to find ways to save money. You save money in everything but bodies."

Mullan and most politicians agree that of all of the items in Hamilton's budget, residents are supportive of spending more money on police, because they believe it translates into safer streets.

Mullan acknowledges Hamilton has experienced a drop in major crimes. But the crimes that are now being committed demand more officers and time to investigate them.

The service recently re-organized how officers are deployed in order to boost police presence in neighbourhoods, in response to residents' concerns, said Mullan. It's this type of public sentiment that makes politicians reluctant to slice the police budget, especially in an election year.

But as politicians face a 7.8 per cent average tax hike, and a $45-million deficit, councillors are looking at every item in the budget to eliminate.

City staff are now examining ways to cut a 7.8 per cent average tax increase down to 3 per cent as requested by councillors. Budget meetings have been cancelled until next month when their report is expected to be presented to the budget committee for discussion.

City staff examine police budget

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Police Service's 2006 budget may not be saved from councillors' ax after all.

Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead wants all boards, agencies and even the city to impose a freeze on any cost of living (COL) increases that affect non-union employees. His proposal would also affect the police budget.

"We have to push our noses to the grindstone for this budget," he says. "I respect what (Police Chief Brian)Mullan is arguing about his budget. But I want all agencies to do their part."

Councillors last week approved in principle the $107-million police budget, a 4.6 per cent increase from last year. Politicians have demanded that all boards and agencies, such as the Hamilton Public Library and the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. slice their budgets to a 3 per cent increase. For the police, it would mean carving off another $1.6 million, resulting in laying off about 66 police officers, said Mullan.

"It's a no-brainer (to approve the police budget)," said Hamilton councillor Sam Merulla. "This is about community safety."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson agreed, saying the police budget is a special case for politicians and the community. But even Jackson is talking about reducing the agencies' budgets, including the library.

Library officials argue any cuts would mean staff layoffs and library branches shutting down.

Meanwhile, politicians agreed with Mullan that Hamilton is receiving a great deal by cost-sharing with other levels of government to fund the salaries of the 66 police officers.

In addition, the police service has the option to appeal council's decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which can impose the police services budget on the city.

"If you compare the Hamilton Police Service to what other services are doing, Hamilton will have a small increase," said Jackson.

Preliminary numbers indicate Halton police will have a budget hike of about 9.6 per cent, York Region is at 8.9 per cent and Waterloo is at 8.1 per cent. Niagara Region's budget is about 4.6 per cent. Mullan said the major factor for the police service budget hike is salaries and benefits, which account for about 86 per cent. Fuel costs and fleet maintenance costs have also increased.

"Council has been wonderful in supporting us in the past," he said. "I'm not thinking we are going down any roads (to be cut). We are always trying to find ways to save money. You save money in everything but bodies."

Mullan and most politicians agree that of all of the items in Hamilton's budget, residents are supportive of spending more money on police, because they believe it translates into safer streets.

Mullan acknowledges Hamilton has experienced a drop in major crimes. But the crimes that are now being committed demand more officers and time to investigate them.

The service recently re-organized how officers are deployed in order to boost police presence in neighbourhoods, in response to residents' concerns, said Mullan. It's this type of public sentiment that makes politicians reluctant to slice the police budget, especially in an election year.

But as politicians face a 7.8 per cent average tax hike, and a $45-million deficit, councillors are looking at every item in the budget to eliminate.

City staff are now examining ways to cut a 7.8 per cent average tax increase down to 3 per cent as requested by councillors. Budget meetings have been cancelled until next month when their report is expected to be presented to the budget committee for discussion.

City staff examine police budget

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Police Service's 2006 budget may not be saved from councillors' ax after all.

Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead wants all boards, agencies and even the city to impose a freeze on any cost of living (COL) increases that affect non-union employees. His proposal would also affect the police budget.

"We have to push our noses to the grindstone for this budget," he says. "I respect what (Police Chief Brian)Mullan is arguing about his budget. But I want all agencies to do their part."

Councillors last week approved in principle the $107-million police budget, a 4.6 per cent increase from last year. Politicians have demanded that all boards and agencies, such as the Hamilton Public Library and the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. slice their budgets to a 3 per cent increase. For the police, it would mean carving off another $1.6 million, resulting in laying off about 66 police officers, said Mullan.

"It's a no-brainer (to approve the police budget)," said Hamilton councillor Sam Merulla. "This is about community safety."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson agreed, saying the police budget is a special case for politicians and the community. But even Jackson is talking about reducing the agencies' budgets, including the library.

Library officials argue any cuts would mean staff layoffs and library branches shutting down.

Meanwhile, politicians agreed with Mullan that Hamilton is receiving a great deal by cost-sharing with other levels of government to fund the salaries of the 66 police officers.

In addition, the police service has the option to appeal council's decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which can impose the police services budget on the city.

"If you compare the Hamilton Police Service to what other services are doing, Hamilton will have a small increase," said Jackson.

Preliminary numbers indicate Halton police will have a budget hike of about 9.6 per cent, York Region is at 8.9 per cent and Waterloo is at 8.1 per cent. Niagara Region's budget is about 4.6 per cent. Mullan said the major factor for the police service budget hike is salaries and benefits, which account for about 86 per cent. Fuel costs and fleet maintenance costs have also increased.

"Council has been wonderful in supporting us in the past," he said. "I'm not thinking we are going down any roads (to be cut). We are always trying to find ways to save money. You save money in everything but bodies."

Mullan and most politicians agree that of all of the items in Hamilton's budget, residents are supportive of spending more money on police, because they believe it translates into safer streets.

Mullan acknowledges Hamilton has experienced a drop in major crimes. But the crimes that are now being committed demand more officers and time to investigate them.

The service recently re-organized how officers are deployed in order to boost police presence in neighbourhoods, in response to residents' concerns, said Mullan. It's this type of public sentiment that makes politicians reluctant to slice the police budget, especially in an election year.

But as politicians face a 7.8 per cent average tax hike, and a $45-million deficit, councillors are looking at every item in the budget to eliminate.

City staff are now examining ways to cut a 7.8 per cent average tax increase down to 3 per cent as requested by councillors. Budget meetings have been cancelled until next month when their report is expected to be presented to the budget committee for discussion.