The Barrie Police Service has handed down a budget for consideration, representing a nearly two percent jump over last year.
The 2021 police budget as proposed calls for $56,901,324 in funding from city coffers. This is a 1.95 percent increase over the 2020 ask, during a time when many are calling for police budgets to face further scrutiny.
The biggest single entry on the budget is, as always, salaries and benefits. Those, combined with overtime, represent just over $52.4 million. Salaries are included in the police service’s operating budget; expenditures that fall under this category are those day-to-day costs of doing business. Similar to monthly household bills, operating expenses also include maintenance, insurance, uniforms, telephone, and property rental costs. Including salaries, the police service’s operating budget totals $58,038,598.
The service’s capital budget, at $1,633,000 would cover upgrades to its fleet and raido systems, as well as the acquisition of new specialized equipment, information technology tweaks, and body-worn cameras.
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In June, Barrie City Council handed down budget direction to its service partners, including the Barrie Police Service. At the time, a motion to probe budget reductions and add further scrutiny to the police services budget was defeated. This came despite an apparent increase in public engagement as well as a slew of protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to defund the police. “Hundreds of people engaged in our online suggestion platform … on a call to reduce our police budget by 10 percent in 2021,” said Councillor Keenan Aylwin during a June 29 council meeting. “This may be the fastest a suggestion has reached the required threshold to be considered by council, so there is clearly a desire in the community for action on this front.”
The service conducted a questionnaire of the public and held a community engagement session. Over 600 people got involved in the process.