Police and fire-paramedic services face early-year budget woes

Winnipeg's emergency services fell behind their financial targets early in 2018.

Emergency services falling behind financial projections due to overtime, ticket revenue, pensions, bad debts

The Winnipeg Police Service was $4.5 million behind its budget projections by the end of March, city financial managers report. (CBC)

Winnipeg's emergency services fell behind their financial targets early in 2018.

The Winnipeg Police Service is heading toward a $4.5-million budget deficit this year, while the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is facing a $3.7-million pool of red ink at the end of 2018, the City of Winnipeg's first-quarter financial report says.

The police service is expected to exceed its $292-million budget because of a shortfall in traffic enforcement revenue, soaring pension costs and additional police overtime racked up during nine street parties outside Bell MTS Place during the Winnipeg Jets playoff run, the report says.

The fire paramedic service is expected to exceed its $194-million budget because it no longer expects to collect old ambulance debts and finance officials fear the city may not resolve one of its funding disputes with provincial health authorities.

Overall, city finance managers are projecting a $12.1-million deficit for the end of the year, based on accounts from the end of March. 

That figure alone is not a strong predictor of actual red ink at the end of the year. Historically, first-quarter deficit projections become fourth-quarter surpluses at the City of Winnipeg.

In 2017, the city faced an early-year budget crisis following a failed council gamble on the snow-clearing budget for the final two months of 2016. By the end of 2017, the city posted a $15-million surplus.