The budget for Halifax's police department could go up by about 10 per cent despite attempts by municipal finance officials to cap the increase in the city's overall budget at 1.6 per cent.
The main factor in the hike is an arbitration ruling in August that gave police officers annual salary increases of 2.75 per cent each year over a five-year contract. Halifax Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais is also hoping to hire four new civilian employees.
"It's entirely up to the Board [of Police Commissioners]," said Blais. "And then their recommendation goes to council."
The current police budget is $86.6 million. The proposed budget is $87.6 million.
The city's police commission will go through the proposed budget in more detail at its December meeting. Additionally, there are a couple of items that have not yet been included in the budget:
- The Halifax RCMP want Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to hire two new crime analysts.
- Commission members want to offer volunteers free criminal background checks.
Currently, volunteers pay $30 for the background checks. Anyone getting the check for employment purposes pays $50.
If the fees are waived for volunteers, it could cost the police department more than $400,000. But Coun. Steve Craig, chair of the police commission, still thinks it's worth considering.
"I think this is one area that I'd support," he said. "Isn't it a service to the broader community?"