Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Police struggle to rejig budget after surprises

Less cash available to WPS, North End station delayed

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THE 2014 preliminary city budgets contains two surprises for Winnipeg police and the police board.

The police had proposed spending $1.3 million more than what Mayor Sam Katz and his executive policy committee unveiled Nov. 29, and a new station for the North End was pushed back two years to 2017.

Pressed for cash

EPC Winnipeg police 2014 budget

Total: $257.9 million

Property taxes: $215.4 million

Revenue: $42.5 million

Winnipeg police 2014 budget

Winnipeg Police Board as proposed

Total: $259.2 million

Property taxes: $216.7 million

Revenue: $42.5 million

Revised Winnipeg Police Board WPS budget

Total: $259.2 million

Property taxes: $215.4 million

Revenues: $43.8 million

Police board chairman Don Norquay said the board and police were tasked with lowering the amount the WPS needed from taxpayer funds -- and do it before Friday's police board meeting.

WPS comptroller Ron Smolik said police initially feared they would have to cancel hiring 34 recruits in 2014. However, he explained the WPS was able to lower its reliance on taxpayer funds by boosting revenues and staggering the hiring of the recruits.

But the police had no solution for the North End police station.

Chief Devon Clunis said as late as a month ago0 construction of the new police station was to have started in 2015, adding no one told him it had been changed.

Clunis said the station on Hartford Avenue needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Smolik said police received last-minute assistance with their budget woes when the Richardson International Airport extended its policing contract into late 2014, providing the WPS with an additional $511,000 in revenue. Smolik said the $1.3-million shortfall was narrowed further by boosting enforcement revenue and other fees and staggering the hiring of the recruits -- 20 in February and the remaining 14 in the fall.

Smolik said the rejigging left a $172,000 hole, which he said the WPS will be able to deal with through cost-saving measures throughout the year.

The result is that while the WPS budget will be higher than EPC announced a week ago, the amount funded by taxpayers remains the same.

The WPS had no solution for the North End police station.

The police board didn't pass a resolution to ask EPC to move the project to 2015 but chairman Scott Fielding said he would approach Katz and members of EPC to move the project.

Fielding said he's hopeful money will be found in the capital budget to get construction started on a new police station for the North End sooner than 2017.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 B2

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