The Thunder Bay Police Services Board has unanimously approved a total budget increase of almost $1.7 million for 2014. 

Police chief J.P. Levesque asked for another 3.5 per cent, or $1.2 million, for the force's operating budget. He also asked for $489,000 to be added to the capital budget.   

Levesque said most of the additional operating costs are driven by labour expenses, including a 3.1 percent wage increase mandated in the current four-year contract and normal salary raises as officers advance through the ranks. 

He said that providing courthouse security was also driving costs up because the provincial government was only funding about half the amount needed. 

Levesque noted the police service kept the budget increase to a minimum by finding efficiencies in other areas.       

"We can't get much leaner, short of cutting positions,” Levesque told reporters after the Tuesday morning meeting.

"I'm pleased [the budget] was approved," he said. "There's some caution going into this though. It's going to be a tough year."

For instance, Levesque said there will be very little flexibility if variable costs go up, such as the price of gasoline. 

He said an upgrade to the city's 911 call system to accommodate emergency text messaging accounts for most of the increased capital cost in 2014. 

Both the operating and capital budgets must still go to City Council for approval in the New Year.

If approved, the total 2014 police operating budget will be $36.5 million. The total capital budget will be $1.3 million.