The cost of policing was the big issue at the city’s budget committee meeting on Friday, but London’s Police Services Board got only part of the funding increase it was hoping for in 2013.
Mayor Joe Fontana says ‘Municipalities across this province are dealing with these challenges of affordability and sustainability of their police and fire budgets and so on and so forth.”
The board was asking for a 3.6 per cent increase in their budget, which is worth about $90.6 million, but instead got a 2.9 per cent increase.
That leaves them with a $640,000 shortfall. But while it could have been worse for the police force, it remains unclear how the cut will affect services.
Chief Brad Duncan says “At this point I am not laying off any of our officers or our civilian members.”
Much of the budget increase will go to contractual wages and benefits. Meanwhile programs like Community Foot Patrol, the Community Oriented Response Unit and family counselling will have to be re-examined.
“Certainly there are costings around what we do, and so some of the things we deliver, we’ll have to alter,” Duncan says.
In comparison, councillors gave the London Fire Department a one per cent budget increase, instead of the 7.7 per cent that had been requested on Thursday.
As negotiations continue, while cuts are being made it seems less and less likely that the city will be able to deliver on its promised zero tax increase.
Councillor Joni Baechler says “We are looking at transit, we’re looking at every service that we offer, fire you saw yesterday there were some cuts made there, so it’s kind of an opportunity where everyone’s going to have to share a little bit in the cuts.”
After Friday’s meeting, Baechler Tweeted that the tax increase now sits at 1.5 per cent, or $35 for the average homeowner.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m.