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Extra police budget ask gets the thumbs up

The extra $250,000 will cover an increase in purchased services within the force.
Thunder Bay Police Service station

THUNDER BAY – Council added an extra $250,000 to the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) 2024 budget at Wednesday's meeting.

Police staff appeared before council again requesting approval of the extra money to cover an increase in purchased services.

Administration said it relates to the increased fee being charged by Cobourg Police Services for criminal records checks.

The force said they will review the cost benefit of bringing the service back in house.

Northwood Counc. Dominic Pasqualino said the city is on the hook to invest in policing and other issues such as mental health.

“None of these things are solely the responsibility of the city. We need the help of both the provincial and federal governments to put funding into prevention, and I'm not even sure what that looks like,” Pasqualino said.

Only two members voted against the added cost, including budget chair Mark Bentz and At-large Counc. Rajni Agarwal.

“The police play an important role in our community, but they respond to the crime that occurs in society,” Bentz said.

“So, many of my colleagues around the table were speaking to funding the front end, which means you have to spend money to ensure crime is reduced. The downside of that is it could take decades to see the results of those investments.

“If you look at the big picture, it's good to fund the front end because if you don’t do that, you get a lot of crime, arrests, incarceration, and a lot of pain and sorrow," he said.

Council also agreed to a staff recommendation to increase funding for the community safety and well-being enhancements budget by $250,000 beginning in 2025.

McKellar Ward Coun. Brian Hamilton got approval earlier in the budget process to add $25,000 to the recreation and culture division of the budget. Roughly $15,000 will allow staff to provide a minimum of two movie nights as part of existing neighbourhood-based program.

Hamilton said the money to do these things has to come from somewhere.

“We have to be able to adapt your programming and where you've allocated resources to the needs of the future,” he said.

“We should be directing more funds into capital and infrastructure, but there's very limited operational dollars and very limited operational savings.

“Whenever possible, I think we got to be mindful that we must save dollars and use our resources wisely.”

The 2024 operating and capital budget, which has a municipal tax levy of 5.93 per cent before growth and 5.48 per cent after growth, is scheduled to be ratified on Monday, Feb. 12.


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