2014 police budget request touted as 'lowest in 14 years'
After an extended battle over the 2013 police budget, the Hamilton Police Service is making its pitch for the 2014 budget – and it’s the lowest increase request in 14 years, police say.
Police Chief Glenn De Caire is asking for a 2.98 per cent increase over the 2013 budget, which is equal to $4.18 million. That puts the total Hamilton police budget for 2014 at just over $153 million. The police board will debate the chief's request Monday and if approved, send it on to council for its consideration.
BUDGET AT A GLANCE
$153 million- Total estimated expenditures for 2014
$144 million- Total amount of that budget to be raised from taxes
$8.85 million- Other revenue sources
88%- Proportion of police budget eaten up by salaries and benefits
2.98%- increase over 2013 budget
15- The number of new officers hired in 2013 now on the payroll for 2014
0- The number of new officers to be hired in 2014
“The primary pressures on the 2014 operating budget are the estimated salary contingency enhancements for 2014 collective bargaining and the annualized costs of the  sworn officers hired in fall of 2013.”
Those 15 new officers and one civilian staff member are down from the original 20 that De Caire had been pushing for in the last budget.
The majority of the increase comes from salaries and benefits for officers, with about a third of the 2.98 per cent increase coming from equipment, supplies and services. The increase is necessary to maintain the same service level from 2013, the report reads.
As the collective agreements for the Hamilton Police Association and the Senior Officers Association have expired, the service is estimating the amount of cash they’ll need once those agreements are settled. The budget amoutn allowed for those estimated increases to salaries and wages is $3.05 million.
De Caire has repeatedly stated the need for additional officers in Hamilton. But in the budget request, the service has said it plans to maintain 2013 staffing levels.
In an effort to “present the most fiscally responsible budget,” the board hasn’t included programs like Taser adoption for all frontline officers, crime analysis and time and attendance reporting. A separate report will be presented to police services board seeking approval on these programs from capital reserve funding.
The service will also receive the third year of upload funding from the province for court security services, which amounts to $700,000.
Last year’s police budget became contentious when the board presented a budget that represented a more than five per cent increase over 2012. De Caire and the board resisted calls by council to reduce the budget request, with some councillors called De Caire's requests unreasonable.
Council and police eventually settled on a 3.52-per cent increase for 2013.