Winnipeg police face potential cash crunch, staff shortfall
Photo radar brings in millions, but arbitration award costs nearly $2 million.
Winnipeg's Police Board started its meeting off Friday with a moment of silence to respect the fallen RCMP officers in Moncton.
Then it was down to the business of dollars and cents.
Paul Edwards, a civilian member of the board and chairman of the budget and finance subcommittee, said the numbers aren't all in, but the report he tabled says the city faces a potential shortfall of several million dollars in the Winnipeg Police Service budget.
The report said photo radar revenue, after expenses, brought in more than $7 million last year and lowered the number of collisions.
At the same time though, the Winnipeg Police Service is on the hook for $1.8 million because of an arbitration award for unpaid vacation benefits for members on disability leave.
Winnipeg police board chair Scott Fielding said there are savings to be found that would prevent a year-end deficit.
"We need to discuss how we are going to mitigate those issues but I've got no concerns that we'll somehow be in the red by the end of the year, even with this issue that's there” he said.
Fielding said that there are reserves the city can tap into to help.
"If you are budgeting this right, you should have the talk where you ask, 'what's the worst case scenario that we would have' and you stash that money away," said Fielding. "If somehow that money wasn't stashed away from the city, that's their issue.”
The board also heard the WPS is facing a cash crunch for pay raises in the latest collective agreement, as well as costs related to the service's move to the new headquarters building.
Another challenge is on the way as well, with more than 200 officers scheduled to retire but haven't yet.
The WPS may face a staffing shortage because it takes time to get new recruits up to speed.
Police Chief Devon Clunis said the bulge of officers who haven't retired but could is a "bubble that could burst."
The information tabled Friday is part of the police service's budget and will be tabled in late June.