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It is widely thought that next month’s provincial budget will trigger an election. If a vote were held today, who would you support?

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2013-12-17 at NOON

Budget warning

By Matt Vis,
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The city’s police force is attaching a warning to its 2014 budget presentation.

The Thunder Bay Police Service Board’s proposed budget will feature an overall increase of 3.5 per cent. The force’s police chief calls it a lean budget, but cautions that operating under it will leave no room for error.

“This is the second year in a row I’ve come to the board with no increases in material accounts at all,” Thunder Bay Police Service chief J.P. Levesque said during the scheduled police service’s board meeting Tuesday at the Balmoral Street station.  “That is somewhat dangerous. We could see anything, a change in gasoline prices, that could have a big effect on us.”

The proposed budget was approved by the board Tuesday. The increase of nearly 3.5 per cent brings the 2014 net budget up to just more than $36 million. Despite that amount, Levesque said the budget is cut nearly as much as possible without eliminating positions.

“At some point, we’re going to have to reconcile those material accounts. You try to budget based on history and experience but there’s a political side to this as well. You have to get the budget passed.”

He added that every effort was made not to let any potential cuts have an impact upon front line service, but acknowledged that some planned hiring may have to be delayed.

Board chair Joe Virdiramo said he supports the work done by Levesque and administration in preparing the budget, and said he is optimistic it will be passed by city council.

“At these times, 3.5 per cent is a good budget for us to bring forward,” said  Virdiramo, who is also the Westfort ward councillor. “We have to provide the service and keep the city safe and this how we do it.”

The operating budget will see an increase of $1.2 million, with the majority of that increase due to a negotiated 3.1 per cent wage increase.

The capital budget is proposed to spike to $1.3 million for the upcoming year, an increase of $489,000 from 2013.

The most significant cost associated with the capital budget increase comes from the mandated Next Generation 911 service, which is projected to take up nearly a quarter of the capital. This will lead to police being able to be contacted in emergency situations via text messaging.

The onus falls on the police to fund the equipment and system required for the service.

One area that Levesque is going to be looking for assistance is with funding for some expenses that are mandated.

As part of the Municipal Act, city police are responsible for providing security in the courthouse. With the new consolidated courthouse slated to open early in the new year, there is a shortfall between the cost the police service incurs and what funding is received.

Levesque said the service is looking to renegotiate the agreement with the Ministry of the Attorney General to bridge the gap for the 2015 budget, but acknowledged it wouldn’t make a difference for the coming year.

“The $522,000 we’re receiving for court security doesn’t even pay half,” Levesque said.

“We’re looking at $1.2 million to cover security in a provincial building. In 2009 when they gave us funding to start offsetting that cost, that was based off numbers we gave them in 2008.”

Levesque is scheduled to present the budget to city council in February.

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We've improved our comment system.
Tbay99 says:
This city is fast tracking it's way to bankruptcy.
12/17/2013 1:12:58 PM
TBDR says:
No it isn't. Read the budget on the city's website. We're in better shape now than we were 5 years ago.
12/18/2013 3:05:10 AM
Tachyion says:
The true meaning of a sentence.....The onus is on the taxpayer to "fund the equipment and system", or does the police department have major income from other sources that covers all expenses related to that income.
12/17/2013 1:33:50 PM
Ranma says:
So is the reason that so many of our criminals, repeat criminals, because the force does not have the budget to properly investigate them and keep them behind bars? Maybe it's time our repeat offenders started paying fines directly to the police force to help them with their budget.
12/17/2013 2:06:16 PM
Bigtime says:
This repeat offenders topic just keeps coming up and people are too stupid to listen. Keeping them behind bars has nothing to do with the Police budget. It has to do with the Canadian Legal System. It typically allows for a slap on the wrist system for repeat offenders, that is beyond the control of Thunder Bay Police, OPP, Winnipeg, BC, NAPS etc etc. Please refrain from typing posting ignorant, uneducated comments and use your head...after giving it a good shake first.
12/17/2013 3:22:39 PM
Chaos says:
Why can't these people propose a balanced budget? 3.5 % increas. After the massive increases from years previous...I though crime was going down the Mayor said last night!?!!?
Price out OPP!!
12/17/2013 2:07:17 PM
Baor says: think they would be cheaper?!
12/17/2013 5:46:05 PM
fluffy says:
The OPP are to paperwork intensive. They have to have the thickest file at any event. 5 minutes into their first shift in the city they'll get 15 calls and they'll all be sitting behind a computer doing data input the rest of the shift. Wouldn't work.
12/17/2013 2:20:02 PM
drdolittle says:
No room for error and Thunder Bay Police Force are mutually exclusive terms lol.
12/17/2013 2:22:04 PM
hoynthehoy says:
I dont think this is about police getting raises bud. as for asking the public for help, is yourcivic pride that obsolete that being asked to come forward with information regarding a crime perturbs you that much? policing costs money. and this city is full of situations that require that exact service. Its not going to change folks.
12/17/2013 3:59:08 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Our Chief makes $203,000 a year. The Chief of New York City makes $206,000. WTF is with that?
12/17/2013 4:15:46 PM
realist says:
How many Chiefs are there in New York? How many Deputy Chiefs are there? How many Staff Sergeants are there? How many Watch Commanders are there? How many Corporals are there?

I'm willing to bet there's more than 1 Chief, Deputy Chief, Staff Sergeant, Watch Commander and Corporal in New York and I'm also willing to bet there are multiples of each working every shift.
12/17/2013 11:01:50 PM
tbfriend says:
Your wrong - the NY Commissioner made $210,000 in 2010 - that is a civilian non-officer position. The chief makes significantly more. There are cities smaller then Tbay in the US where a chief will make in excess of $400,000. There is 1 police chief - there are hundreds of teachers that make $100,000 - who do you think deserves more - where is the pay equity there?
12/18/2013 7:05:31 AM
musicferret says:
Economy is down. Real wages are down.

And these idiots come back each and every year for another big increase. What is wrong with this picture?

If the economy was booming and everything was great, maybe 3.5% would be ok. But year after year during this downturn, the cops heft themselves up to the trough, take their big fat raises, and raise their budget demands.

As a taxpayer, i'm sick of it, but I feel powerless to stop them. I've written my councillor. the mayor, mpp, mp etc., but nothing changes.

Anyone else have ideas? This is unsustainable and is just getting worse. Fire and police service alike.
12/17/2013 6:18:58 PM
jimmyboy says:
so much for planned hiring being delayed...4 new police officers were sworn in today at the Arthur Street courthouse...
12/17/2013 6:26:42 PM
moneyfornothing says:
Interesting how most stories involving the police are open for comments and yet many of the other more controversial subjects are locked.
Good work tbnewswatch. Fair and impartial, hardly.
As for the police budget.
Policing costs can only go up.
Every other agency seems to be downloading their level service leaving the cops to pick up the pieces. Mental health and substance abuse is a prime example. In addition there are new mandated sections that have never existed before. (Computer crime and sex offender registry)
Pick up a paper. Constant news about arrests being made.
I do believe they are busy unlike another emergency service.
Their wages are in line with cops across the country. (U.S. cops pay significantly less tax remember, lets compare apples to apples)
They deal with B.S. from the public, the courts and the criminals.
They are thrown into controversial situations and when one side is not happy they often will voice their tainted opinion where they can. Here.
12/17/2013 6:34:35 PM
Dbenedic says:
I would like to see the criminals put to work everyday unless a doctor gives them a day off "sick slip". There are TONS of things criminals could do around the city and those jobs done would save the city a TON of money. When they get back to their cells at night, they would welcome the rest! Work their damn butts off, I say!
12/17/2013 8:19:15 PM
anonnymouse says:
My google search showed that our Chief makes $185904.00 and the Chief of New York City makes $215000. ?
12/17/2013 10:52:22 PM
fastball says:
Your point?
Because someone gets well paid - that's relevant to the discussion?
Because someone went to school, got a good job, rose through the ranks, and reached an executive position along with the salary that goes with it - somehow that's something to be ridiculed?
12/18/2013 6:36:34 PM
unknowncronik says:
Make it that EVERY arrest comes with a fine, REGARDLESS of what the arrest is!!!!

It may curb only some crime, but some is better than nothing!

Just like the expence of snowplowing the roads....$25K a night?
12/18/2013 1:45:54 AM
timeforchange says:
budget increase after budget increase.

JOE V supports the Chief. Budget is lean. Have to pass this budget or cuts will happen. Joe V hands out unjustifiable raises.The same song every year

This will be a story for one or two days. People will complain and then everyone will forget about it till we complain next year.

Keep throwing big money at the cops Joe. They seem to be the only ones who deserve it. And then fire guys get it automatically cause fire deserves every dime the cops get. What a disaster.

3% for them and fire
1 to 1.5% for everyone else.
Is anyone out there???

12/18/2013 6:13:06 AM
Tbayhabs33 says:
Maybe stop paying cops to sit at a donut shop or the side of the road "catching speeders" look like they are sleeping in there half the time...legalize marijuana and that will take away 40% of the "crime" you people are trying to stop
12/18/2013 7:41:04 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
"lean budget"...hahahahaha...cops are the chubbiest, most-protected civil servant fat cats in town...LOL
12/19/2013 9:24:05 AM
North18 says:
And they deserve every penny they get!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
12/19/2013 12:05:07 PM
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