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Guelph Police seek 4.75 per cent budget increase despite request for no increase

The Guelph Police Service says it needs just over $48 million for its operations budget in 2021
20190614 Guelph Police Service KA
Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

Despite a request by the mayor for no budget increase for 2021, the Guelph Police Service is seeking almost five per cent more than it received in last year’s operating budget.

The Guelph Police Service is estimating the 2021 operating budget coming in at over $48 million. That’s almost $2.2 million more than was approved for 2020.

The Guelph Police Services Board heard the budget request during a presentation at its September meeting, held Thursday by video conference.

The board will vote on whether to approve the increase at its October meeting before it is presented to Guelph City Council during the city’s budget process.

Of the $48 million proposed budget, almost $2.5 million will go toward increases in salaries, wages and benefits for the service’s employees due to a new collective agreement reached earlier this year with the Guelph Police Association.

Almost $950,000 of the increase in salaries, wages and benefits was already approved as part of the hiring of 30.5 full-time positions as part of last year’s budget.

No new hires are being requested as part of the 2021 operational budget.

In June Mayor Cam Guthrie, as a member of the board, presented a motion to the board asking Chief Gord Cobey and the senior leadership team to ‘strive for a zero percent budget increase for the year 2021.’ Guthrie made the request in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guelph Police is forecasting a 5.29 per cent budget increase in 2022, 4.14 per cent for 2023 and in 2024 is projecting another 3.27 per cent increase. If those forecasts are met the 2024 budget will be a total of $54,731,050.

In the budget report, Guelph Police Service said the 2021 operational budget was ‘created in the context of contractual responsibilities and fiscal restraint and ensures adequate funding to operate adequately and effectively to support the service’s business plan.’

In July, the Guelph Police Service presented its $1,561,900 capital budget, which covers equipment, infrastructure and facilities used by the service. It is typically dwarfed by much larger operating budget, which covers day-to-day expenses like salaries and benefits, among other expenditures.