Fredericton council approves armoured police vehicle, but no new officers
Homeowners will pay an extra $10 on water bills to cover infrastructure upgrades
The Fredericton Police Force is getting a new, light-armoured vehicle to use in the capital city, but it was denied a request to hire more officers in the latest Fredericton budget.
Fredericton councillors approved the city's $113.2-million budget for 2017 on Monday evening.
The budget set aside nearly $350,000 so the Fredericton Police Force could add a "armoured rescue vehicle" to its operations.
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The police force didn't get everything on its budget wishlist.
The Fredericton Police Force had also requested $440,000 to hire two new officers and several civilian positions.
That request was ignored in the budget, however.
Coun. Greg Ericson, chair of the city's finance and administration committee, defended council's decision to buy the armoured vehicle instead of hiring more officers and staff.
Police Chief Leanne Fitch said council's decision to refuse funding for additional officers and staff was disappointing.
"The last four years certainly have been a challenge, particularly for our frontline staff," said Fitch.
Fitch said the force averages around 10,000 overtime hours a year.
"We lost 10 police positions over the last four years but we increased civilian positions … I expect going forward we're going to see the need for more resources, not less."
Property tax status quo, increases elsewhere
Property tax rates will not go up next year, but residents will be paying more for water usage.
The quarterly service charge for water and sewer is being increased to $102.90 from $92.86 to support upgrades to infrastructure.
Some recreation services will cost a few dollars more, such as ice rink and sports field rentals. Transit rider cards are going to cost $2.50 more next year.
The city's capital budget for 2017 is $17.4 million.
Top priority projects include changes to Officers' Square and Carleton Street, updates to the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge and introducing low-floor accessible buses.
The city also doubled its contribution to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Originally the city committed $50,000 a year over 10 years but extended that to 20 years.
"It seemed like the right thing to do given our vision, wanting the types of development that we want in this city. It's very consistent with this vibrant downtown that we're going to create. It's a significant enhancement to the downtown and to the city as a whole," said Deputy Mayor Kate Rogers.