A billion dollar budget approved for police services in Toronto
Toronto police board keeps a lid on spending for the second year in a row. For years, the budget grew at a rate double that of inflation, passing the billion-dollar mark in 2016.
Oct. 26, 2017
Toronto’s police board has approved an operating budget request of $1.005 billion for 2018, keeping a lid on its growth for the second year in a row.
For years, the police budget grew at a rate double that of inflation, passing the billion-dollar mark in 2016, up 28 per cent from a decade earlier. That helped drive up city spending, and in recent years triggered fights with council as it tried to contain the ballooning cost of emergency services.
Council has set a 0 per cent budget increase target in 2018 for city departments and agencies.
The Toronto Police Service initially forecast it would need an additional $37.6 million, or a 3.7 per cent increase over the 2017 budget to cover the 2018 salary and benefit settlement.
However, the service was able to offset the salary impact with the savings achieved by a hiring moratorium, which shaved $24.5 million from the 2018 budget, and other reductions and bridging strategies, “that may pose a pressure on the 2019 budget,” a police service budget document warned.
In 2016, a task force formed to modernize the police service recommended a three-year hiring moratorium to decrease the number of officers over time, so that by 2020 there will be 4,750 uniform officers compared to 5,615 in 2010.
In addition, the service has not been filling vacant civilian positions.
While the service will achieve the city’s 0 per cent target this year, it will be difficult to achieve a flat line budget in future years, police service CAO Tony Veneziano said Thursday.
For example, at some point, the civilian moratorium has to be lifted, as investments will need to be made to implement the task force’s recommendations, “to decrease the risk of failure,” Veneziano said.
The budget dedicates 88 cents of every dollar to a salary and benefits package.