Halifax regional council is struggling with proposed increases to the city's police budget.

The Halifax Regional Police force — which covers Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford — is asking for an additional $500,000 on top of nearly $8 million for arbitrated salary increases.

The RCMP — which polices the municipality's rural and suburban areas — is asking for a $225,000 increase, which will represent 70 per cent of the salaries for the six new officers the force wants to hire for the region.

The federal government will cover the other 30 per cent.

The city's budget for next year is already expected to include a 1.9 per cent increase to the average homeowner's tax bill.

"I'm struggling a little bit with this one, I really am, because we put pretty stringent guidelines in place for budget," said Mayor Mike Savage.

"My preference at this point would be to say, look, we would ask the police commission to give us another plan. Either prioritize the positions you need, or, can you phase it in over two or three years? This is going to be a tough year."

Councillors deferred the decision on the RCMP request until the end of March.

The proposal from Halifax Regional Police was sent back to the police commission, asking it to prepare a budget without the extra half-million dollars. That budget will also be debated at the end of March.