Questions raised if police budget dispute could have been avoided
Could the budget dispute between City Hall and the London Police Services Board (LPSB) been avoided?
CTV News has learned that what the LPSB's budget chair describes as a "tentative compromise"never made it to councillors for consideration.
On March 1, the LPSB made its second pitch to council.
Ultimately, council turned down the request for $4 million in additional funds to hire five officers and one civilian employee.
That decision has triggered an appeal by the LPSB to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).
The appeal may also centre on City Hall's handling of what LPSB budget chair Paul Paolatto describes as a "tentative compromise" reached on March 1.
But it was never considered by council before the budget was finalized nine days later.
Paolatto confirmed this to CTV News in an email.
"I can confirm that just prior to the Board's March 1st presentation to City Council and in a manner consistent with past budget negotiations between the police and the City, Mr. Martin Hayward, the City's CFO and I worked out a tentative compromise that would utilize the City's new four-year budget process to potentially resolve the Police budget shortfall without impacting the existing tax base. I tabled the budget compromise to the Chief, who supported the proposal, and was preparing to take it to my Board when I learned from Mr. Hayward that the City's support for the deal had fallen through. I have no further information regarding the proposal's status and there have been no other discussions since that time."
But the mayor tells CTV News he knew nothing about any offer resembling a "tentative compromise".
"I'm not aware of any specific situation that could have come to council. There was ample opportunity for a member of council to bring it foward or for the police board to bring it forward," says Matt Brown.
Councillor Josh Morgan was the mayor's special advisor on the budget.
"I know that the treasurer has conversations about assessment growth with the chair. But it isn't a process that would be viable because its contingent on," says Morgan.
Paolatto's email goes on to suggest the"tentaive compromise" would not have increased taxes and was firm enough for him to bring it to the police chief.
"I tabled the budget compromise to the chief, who supported the proposal, and was preparing to take it to my Board when I learned from Mr. Hayward that the City's support for the deal had fallen through."
How and whose support fell through is uncertain.
After March 1st, no compromise on the police budget was discussed by council before the budget was finalized.
Brown says his door is still open to an agreement that avoids the appeal but puts the onus on the LPSB to take the first step.
"The London Police Services Board has every opportunity to reach out to us if they have a proposal that they would like us to consider and I encourage them to do so," says Brown.
Multiple requests to speak with the city treasurer and CFO Martin Hayward were not answered.