Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood says the service faces increasing difficulty in meeting budget targets.
The proposed 2022 police budget includes $58.9 million required in municipal funding, a 2.8 per cent increase from 2021. The entire operating budget is $59,793,126, and some of that cost is covered by grants and other revenue streams.
Greenwood presented the numbers to the Barrie Police Services Board at its meeting on Wednesday.
“If you go back to 2011, we (Barrie Police Service) comprised 28.1 per cent of the city’s budget,” said Greenwood. “When we look at this year in 2021, we represented 21.8 per cent of the overall municipal budget. Our leadership team has made smart, evidence-based decisions to ensure that our service delivery is exceptional, despite some of the financial pressures because we believe the key to a healthy and prosperous community starts with community safety.”
The service intends to hold the line on the number of sworn officers at 245, no change from 2021. But Greenwood says they need to add three civilian positions, which would increase the compliment to 123. These three positions include an organizational researcher, a business planner, and a case management coordinator for body-worn cameras and digital evidence management programs.
“The service has worked diligently to ensure a slow and sustainable growth model since 2014,” said Greenwood. “Despite the growth of the City of Barrie, we have utilized civilianization and strategic gapping of positions to help us achieve this.”
Salaries and benefits gobble up well over 90 per cent of the police budget, and the proposed 2022 increase is just point-five per cent or $244.000 more than last year. Salaries account for 73 per cent of that, 23 per cent for benefits and one per cent for overtime.
“As a comparison,” explained Greenwood “is since 2016 salaries and benefits on average have increased $1.7 million from year to year. Without the impact of the retirement incentive program, the 2022 budget impact or request would be an increase just in salaries and benefits equal to a 4.1 per cent increase.”
Operating expenses come in at just over $5.4 million.
“We need to move forward and expand the use of available software and a digital management system,” Greenwood outlined.
There is a $330,000 increase for the purchase of software that will enable officers to work off-site, as required, and ongoing annual costs for things such as body-worn cameras. Maintenance costs make up the largest chunk of the pie with a 23 per cent increase.
As a result of a provincial review of funding grants, the Chief said this has resulted in significant reductions. Grant funding for 2022 is 20 per cent lower than the funding received prior to the change the province put in place, Greenwood explained. The programs which have experienced a reduction include the court security prisoner transportation grant and the community safety and policing grant.
The Chief highlighted the police involvement in the City of Barrie’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, covering off several in which the service is the lead:
- Implement the new Barrie Health Accord
- Strengthen the Collaborate Barrie Situation Table
- Develop a Community Justice Centre Proposal
- Work towards creating a community facility where individuals can access a range of health and social services
- Work together to increase access to mental health services that improve community safety
- Convene the Barrie Anti-Racism Task Force
- Protect at-risk residents from online risks and phone scams
Greenwood said they have proposed a Community Safety and Well-Being Unit that would be a merger of the Community Safety Unit and the Community Response Unit.
“We will continue to review alternative response opportunities to ensure that we are utilizing staffing resources as effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Greenwood. “Some of the areas that we will focus on will include utilizing mental health researchers to help establish the criteria to better direct mental health-related calls to the appropriate resources.”
The proposed Barrie Police budget must still be approved by city council as part of the 2022 municipal budget process.