Nova Scotia

Halifax police budget holds the line

Halifax's police chief presented a hold the line budget proposal for next year to the board of police commissionioners Monday.

Halifax's police chief presented a hold the line budget proposal for next year to the board of police commissionioners Monday.

It keeps the same number of officers on the streets, but there are some controversial cuts.

Even though the wages for the police force will increase by about $3 million, Chief Frank Beazley is only asking for $100,000 more than last year's bottom line of $71 million.

"I will do all the things I need to do. What I won't be doing is some of the extra things that I was able to do in the past. The things that I've looked at, and the things that I've recommended for cutting, will not affect the day-to-day police patrol," he said.

"There will be the same amount of officers out there patrolling, but they will be patrolling in a different way — they'll be back on foot mainly."

The extras on the chopping block include: the city's bike patrol, the mounted horse unit, the boat patrol on Lake Banook and Lake Micmac, and the downtown surveillance cameras.

This was the police commission's first look at the proposed budget. It'll come back to the commission next month before heading to Halifax regional council in mid-March

Council will have the final say on the police budget. But it can only reject the proposal and send it back to the commission, not tweak it.

"We've made extra effort to keep the budget down as much as possible," commission chairman Earl Gosse told CBC News.

"It's in the interest of everyone to have their taxes as low as possible."

There isn't a lot of flexibility with overtime pay, since officers are required to show up for court cases often on their days off.

While violent crime continues to make headline news, Gosse said that's not an immediate factor in budget planning. 

"We try not to make long-term budget plans based on short-term spikes or dips," he said.

There were 16 slayings in the Halifax Regional Municipality in 2011, and a shooting on New Year's Day kicked off 2012.

The cost of RCMP service is still being negotiated by the province. Last year Halifax spent  $22 million for RCMP policing. Officials are expecting about a five per cent increase.

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