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Police budget expected to dominate final public input session Tuesday


Will they come when you call?

It’s the question being posed as the London Police Service (LPS) looks to beef up its resources at taxpayers’ expense.

“If there’s an emergency, absolutely they can still get to you, but if you’re not in imminent danger it can take days,” explained city Coun. Elizabeth Peloza, who serves as budget chief.

Next week will mark the final opportunity for London taxpayers to weigh in on the city budget. A public participation meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at city hall.

A full slate of delegations is expected, and there’s no shortage of correspondence from residents on the agenda, mostly expressing concerns about the police budget.

Among the many letters, Courtney McIntosh wrote, “Shame on the city for prioritizing police services over the on-going housing crisis and lack of resources and opportunities for our city.”

Ruby Ross wrote, “To be clear, I am not asking to ‘defund the police,’ I am asking that the City of London does not vote to increase tax payer dollars to fund the militarization of this city…”

H. Parker wrote, “The police budget, if approved, will increase property taxes 30 per cent over the next four years. This is inflation on steroids.”

The LPS is asking for more than $168 million in 2024. That’s a 28 per cent increase over last year. As it stands, the police budget accounts for more than half of the 8.7 per cent increase in the overall budget.

Budget Chief Coun. Elizabeth Peloza spoke to CTV News on Feb. 23, 2024. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

Coun. Sam Trosow said he believes other city services are left short-shifted.

“What I hear from a lot of residents is they don’t mind paying the higher taxes but they want to receive value for it. They want to receive things that they are actually going to use,” said Trosow.

In the final council budget session next Thursday, Coun. Anna Hopkins will introduce a motion to reduce each of the business cases within the police budget by five per cent.

“We’re looking at other agencies and trying to find savings there, and increasing and decreasing. We’ve been doing that all along, but we haven’t really done that with the police budget,” Hopkins said.

But reducing the police budget could be a tough sell, according to Peloza. She said police can simply go to arbitration if it doesn’t get passed.

“In which case, I don’t believe anyone’s ever won there yet. So we’d have to cover [LPS’] legal costs, and still do the increases in the end,” she said.

Once council finalizes the budget next, Mayor Josh Morgan has ten days to decide whether to approve it. Top Stories

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