The Victoria Police Department is seeking a budget increase of 2.1 per cent, which would largely go to cover rising wages.
The proposed increase amounts to $927,300 of a $43.7-million budget.
“This includes two very important key elements: anticipated salary increases negotiated through collective bargaining and a much needed crime analyst [position],” Chief Jamie Graham told Victoria councillors on Tuesday.
The last police union contract, which expired at the end of 2012, called for a salary increase of 1.3 per cent effective Dec. 31, 2012. Bargaining is yet to begin on a new contract but the department is budgeting an additional two per cent in 2013 for a projected wage increase.
The department has 243 officers and eight jailers.
Salary and benefits for the new crime analyst position are estimated to be $85,000.
“I want to ensure that our department fully understands today’s fiscal reality and we are doing everything we can to realize efficiencies and cost savings,” Graham said.
The original increase forecast to cover rising wages was for $1.5 million, but $318,200 in operating-cost savings were found in the budget, said Scott Seivewright, department comptroller.
“So you can see we’re asking for less [of a budget increase] than what we feel we need for wage increases,” he said.
“They’re small reductions but when they add up they are a significant amount,” Seivewright said, noting the department was able to reduce the cost of overtime, travel, supplies and uniforms.
“For 2014 and 2015, our strategy at that point is to fund wage increases but all other operating costs we will keep at net zero. That’s the plan.”
The department has also decided not to have a backup radio system to CREST.
“We’re comfortable with the CREST system. We weren’t using the backup radios much. We were using cellphones,” he said.
Of the $927,300 increase, Victoria would pay $784,700 (84.6 per cent), while Esquimalt is being asked to pay $142,600 (15.4 per cent).
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said her council has been presented with the numbers but hasn’t incorporated them into its overall municipal budget, so it’s premature to say whether they are acceptable.
“We have to weigh out all of the increases,” Desjardins said. “If you look at the cost allocation to us based on the funding formula, it’s been increasing each year because our assessments have gone up and Victoria’s haven’t gone up as ours have.”
As part of Victoria’s budget reduction strategy, the police have been asked to limit budget increases at two per cent for the next couple of years.
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