Council Will Consider Possible Budget Reductions

Ron Giofu, The River Town Times, reports that town council will consider budget reductions of zero, two, four, five or ten per cent, but it may be mid-February or early March before actuals could come before town council.

Councillor Leo Meloche said based on his business background, he knows it takes time for year-end numbers to be finalized. “If we are going to make the right decisions, we have to have the right information,” said Meloche.

Council will need more information than just the numbers; when it considers each department’s submission, including the police department budget, will council be able to differentiate between necessity and wish list items?

While council does not have the authority to approve or disapprove specific items in the estimates, the Police Services Act states, “council shall establish an overall budget for the board for the purposes described in clauses (1) (a) and (b) and, in doing so, the council is not bound to adopt the estimates submitted by the board.”

There has been reluctance in the past to address policing costs, either by claims of autonomy or by not obtaining an OPP costing, so we’ll see what this council does to control police spending.

In an earlier post, Council Could Cut More, I mentioned that “Policing costs and/or any proposed cuts to the police budget were missing. In an April 8, 2014 CKLW post, Police Chief Tim Berthiaume was confident council will approve the police budget, saying his force is one of the most cost-effective in the province.”

The Auditor General of Ontario’s Cost Comparison of Municipal Police Services estimated per capita cost of police services for a population between 15,000 and 49,999 was:

  • Municipal Police Service $284.00
  • OPP – with contract $150.00
  • OPP – no contract $131.00

We taxpayers do not need budget setting decisions based on subjective information; we need well informed elected officials willing to act in the responsible manner they promised they would.

If a few ‘nice to have but don’t need’ items are cut, they probably won’t even be missed.