Police budget will cost average taxpayer an extra $32 this year
Waterloo Regional Police headquarters is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2013 4:26PM EST
The average taxpayer in Waterloo Region will be paying an extra $32 in taxes this year for police services alone.
The 2013 police budget was approved Wednesday by the police board. It includes a 7 per cent increase over last year, bringing the total budget to $135 million.
Most police board members say the increases can’t continue, but the Waterloo Region Police Association says stopping increases could mean a reduction in service levels.
“Right now, the people of this region get the Cadillac of policing,” police association head Bruce Tucker told CTV.
“They get all their calls answered by us. They get them in a timely fashion.”
Police board chair Tom Galloway agrees, saying Waterloo Region residents will have to expect a shakeup in the system.
“The way we budget for policing and conduct our policing in our society is really becoming unsustainable,” he said.
Police had initially proposed a budget of $138 million, but brought it down to its final level by implementing various delays and cuts.
Most significantly, the budget calls for eight retiring officers to not be replaced.
“It will be through attrition and I don’t think the average person will see any effect whatsoever,” said Galloway.
Police Chief Matt Torigian said he doesn’t know which positions will be eliminated along with the retiring officers, but front-line positions won’t be affected.
Other budget items, like providing security for the new courthouse in Kitchener, were left untouched. Police say they can’t be cut.
Nearly 90 per cent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits.
Tucker suggests before any actions are taken on future budgets, the public be consulted and asked what they would like to see from the police.
“I encourage the police services board and I encourage the administration to hold town hall meetings with the members of the public and get them involved,” he said.
A provincial study in 2011 showed that Waterloo Region residents paid an average of $231 for police service. The provincial average for similar-sized municipalities was $226.
The budget must still be ratified by regional councillors.