Saskatoon police commissioners approve operating $104.2M budget, up from $99.6M in 2020
Final budget was $200K less than police chief asked for last week
Saskatoon's Board of Police Commissioners has approved a 2021 operating budget of $104.2 million for 2021, an increase of $4.6 million from the $99.6M budget the previous year.
The final budget is almost $200,000 lower than what Police Chief Troy Cooper asked city council for last week, but still more than $200,000 higher than the preliminary budget laid out in last year's multi-year budget. The service's capital budget is $2.86 million.
The board held a special meeting on Wednesday after Saskatoon City Council voted during budget deliberations to give the service $199,300 less than what Cooper was asking for.
Last week Cooper said the additional budget would go toward expanding the Police and Crisis Teams (PACT), which pairs officers with mental health workers. On Wednesday he said that expansion will still happen, but recruitment may be delayed.
"Our ability to finance some of those priorities has changed slightly, but the priorities haven't changed," the police chief told commissioners in a virtual meeting.
"At the end of the day, public safety is not impacted by any of the decisions that we make."
Cooper said the reduction is reflective of the economic reality that's facing the city. He said the service will absorb the reduction in a number of different ways, including through delayed recruitment and the reclassification of some positions set to be added to the service.
"Next year, as we go through the first-year, again, of a two-year-budget process, we'll be able to do a little-bit more of a deep dive looking for potential savings across the organization, including things like capital expenditures and operating expenditures in addition to compensation."
Board Chair Darlene Brander said the conversation around budget was an important one for the board of police commissioners to have, especially among the uncertainty of the pandemic.
"It was a tough year for the City of Saskatoon that impacted the overall city budget, so we all have to do our part," she said.
Brander said she's confident Cooper and the service will be able to avoid sacrificing priorities like the Police and Crisis Teams and creating more connections between police and community.
"The commitment by the chief signals to us that that's going to continue on and that's important, because we want to make sure we've got ways to engage with the public, with their partners, to address social issues," she said.
"It's just not the police that address social issues, it's a whole host of people that can come to the table to address social issues that make our community better and ensure public safety."
Further details on the Saskatoon Police Service's final 2021 operating are set to be provided verbally at the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners next meeting, set for Dec. 17.