No new hires as Barrie police seek $57.3 million in municipal funding this year

The number crunching never stops at Barrie City Hall, but this is the time of year when those figures get a closer look, as service partners pull out their figures as part of the 2021 operating and capital budget process.

The Barrie Police Service (BPS) presented its budget to council on Monday with an ask of $57.3 million in municipal funding for this year, or 2.65 per cent more, an increase of nearly $392,000 from 2020.

Salaries, benefits and overtime will eat up $52.8 million in 2021 for 244 officers and 118 civilians.

“We are not increasing our compliment,” Chief Kimberley Greenwood told council. “There will be no new hires for the Barrie Police Service.”

Greenwood said when they looked at their human resources strategy they anticipated four sworn members and five civilian members would be added to the roster. The service will replace two sworn and two civilian members.

There is $1.85 million in the capital budget for 2021, with the top three expenditures being the fleet of vehicles, information technology and a radio system upgrade and radio equipment.

Greenwood said this was the most transparent budget process in the history of the Barrie Police Service.

She said the budget survey revealed the community had many things to say.

“We saw that individuals wish us to keep us at the same level of funding,” said Greenwood. “There were individuals that also said that we should look for efficiencies, and we are looking for efficiencies.”

Last year, according to the Chief, the police service commenced a systemic review of its culture and systems to identify some areas to ensure they were performing as they should be.

“We have also conducted an evidence-based policing review of our calls for service that is focusing on partnerships and the ability to divert and reduce our calls for service, and we’re doing that with our partners.”

On that front, Greenwood cited an example of an iron in the fire.

“Through the City of Barrie, we are one of the five signatures for the Barrie Health Accord, where we’re looking at coordinating and looking at sustainable investments into the determinants of health,” explained the Chief. “We’re also one of the leads that is working on the community safety and wellbeing plan that will go to some of the concerns that have been raised in our community.”

But Greenwood made it clear there needs to be investment as a community to social and health services infrastructure prior to the police reducing their budget.

“I think that immediate reductions are very simplistic,” said Greenwood. “We know that as a society that we need to adequately support social and health services, which we know have been underfunded, or have seen significant cuts to their budget.”

She said the police service is committed to working with the government and community partners on meeting the safety and wellbeing needs of those in the community.

“We will continue to implement change so we can realistically and responsibly look at reductions, where necessary, once the infrastructure is in place to fill those gaps.”

In explaining more about the budget, Greenwood said police calls for service last year were about 20 per cent criminal and 80 per cent non-criminal.

The chief said the BPS saw a reduction of $959,000 last year in provincial grants to deliver two core police services – the court security prisoner transportation service to support court services for Barrie Police, the OPP, South Simcoe Police, Rama Police and the military police, and the community safety and policing grant.

Other service partners will also be presenting their budgets to the city.

Barrie’s 2021 budget is still a few weeks away from being rubberstamped. Currently, homeowners face a 3.59 per cent tax increase this year, or another $160 on a home assessed at just under $368,000. This is not a final figure. Things can change. Budget deliberations begin Jan. 18, and city council hopes to pass the budget on Jan. 25.