Labour, equipment cause police budget increase

Lisa Goudy
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Moose Jaw Police Service Deputy Chief of Police Randy Fuhr (left) and Chief of Police Richard Bourassa present their budget estimations for 2014 at the Dec. 9, 2013 budget committee meeting.

Per capita, the Moose Jaw Police Service is busier than the Regina Police Service, said Moose Jaw’s police chief.

“Calls for service are dropping, but interestingly there’s still almost 17,000 calls for service in 2012,” said Richard Bourassa, Moose Jaw Police Service’s chief of police. “When we look at the service in terms of comparing it to the other (police) services in the province, what we see is Moose Jaw actually has a fairly low rate of police officers compared to the other cities, but yet carries a high workload in terms of Criminal Code incidents per officer.”

Bourassa and Randy Fuhr, deputy police chief, presented the police service’s 2014 operating budget estimates to budget committee at Monday’s meeting. The police service is looking for a 4.5 per cent budget increase in 2013. The 2014 gross operating budget is $9.22 million. That is a $400,712 increase from 2013.

The net operating budget for the police service, not including embedded revenue, is $7.96 million or a 4.12 per cent increase over 2013.

Fuhr said labour costs account for 81 per cent of the budget increase in the amount of $324,000. The equipment reserve contribution caused a 13 per cent increase in the police budget or $51,000. Other costs were six per cent of the increase or $24,000.

“It’s pretty tough to save anywhere when you look at labour,” said Fuhr.

He said the estimations were based on the CUPE collective agreement from 2011 and the police collective agreement expires at the end of this year.

“The equipment reserve, which is another big portion of this increase, it actually reflects two per cent inflation as well as the other actual increases that we were aware of,” said Fuhr. “It’s also driven by some outside factors we have no control over.”

For example, Ottawa’s repository for fingerprints in the country is transferring over to a digital system.

“All the police agencies in Canada have to submit their fingerprints digitally by July 2014,” said Fuhr. “To us, that meant a $50,000-purchase of an identification system where fingerprints are scanned in the system and sent to Ottawa.”

Other costs include communications, buildings, vehicles, training and new software and licensing costs. Contract work also saw increases, such as through victim services.

Bourassa added that key words in the service’s mission statement and value statement are “collaboration,” “community,” “safe and desirable place” and “safe and healthy lives.”

“Really, the value the policing brings to the community is formed by people’s expectations,” said Bourassa. “(Research shows) they expect police to reduce crime and we do that by being visible in the community, by having programs like our school resource program and crime prevention programs that we run.

“They expect us to catch offenders. When people commit crimes they want us to catch those people and we do that with our front line people … We also do it with our investigative unit.”

He said according to a police survey, 84 per cent of people are satisfied with the police service and 41 per cent are very satisfied.

“Although our performance is rated fairly highly in dealing with crime, it isn’t quite meeting the expectations people have. So there is a bit of a gap,” said Bourassa. “So we do know we’re going to have to get a little bit better. We still have work to do."

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Police Service, Bourassa and Randy Fuhr, CUPE

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Ottawa, Canada

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