Council questions EPS request for $20M budget boost
Published Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:53PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:54PM MST
One of the first items that make up next year’s operating budget was the centre of discussion Wednesday morning – with the Edmonton Police Service asking for millions in extra funding.
Chief of Police Rod Knecht and the Edmonton Police Commission brought their requests before city council Wednesday.
In total, EPS have asked for a $13.5 million increase for non-discretionary costs– to cover contracts and maintenance, in addition to another $6.5 million to add more positions.
The new positions would include six new detectives for the Homicide Unit and 12 more community patrol constables.
“The $13 million keeps us exactly where we are, so that pays for everything, the raise in wages, merit pay, any other inflationary costs,” EPS Police Chief Rod Knecht said.
“That keeps us at the current level, and we know we have gaps in service, and we know the city is growing.”
Police said Wednesday that they have also found about $10 million in savings, which will also help in adding 16 new officers.
A number of councillors questioned the request, citing the last budget – that gave police a $9 million boost, which contributed to 68 new positions.
“I don’t think at the time any of us had the impression that you were going to come and seek another 29,” Councillor Don Iveson said in chambers.
“I think we’ve been, in the last 7 or 8 years, incredibly generous with the police in dealing with their challenges,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said to reporters. “I think sometimes you have to draw a line.”
Police also said they’re concerned over the rising costs of calls to correctional facilities, officials said the number and seriousness has increased over time.
Officials also worry that when the new Edmonton Remand Centre opens, their resources will be stretched further – police said they are asking the province to help cover those costs, and said the Solicitor General appears willing to discuss it.
In total, with the requested increase, police are looking for $284.5 million for their 2013 operating budget.
City council is already looking to shrink the draft budget that already shows a 5.5 percent property tax hike.
Public hearings in the budget process begin on November 26, councillors are expected to deliberate well into December.
With files from Bill Fortier