The Hamilton Police Services Board is meeting to make their final budget decision today and there is a new twist to the ongoing budget debate – Chief Glenn DeCaire is recommending the Police Services Board accept City Council’s 3.52% increase, with one big difference. [Agenda here]
Chief DeCaire plans to hire 15 new officers and one new civilian staff member. City Council, in its motion approving a 3.52% budget increase expressly stated an expectation that the Chief would not hire any new staff.
Chief DeCaire, in his recommendation to the Police Services Board, notes that Council does not have the authority to set hire practices or how the police service spends its budget.
The police budget has undergone numerous revisions, starting in November at 5.25%. From there, it was dropped to 4.75% in December. January saw a drop to 3.90%, then Febuary 3.71%. Each decrease was primarily the result of delaying hiring of new officers until later in the fiscal year.
The Police Services Board is made up of seven people: The Mayor, two City Council members, one Council appointee, and three provincial appointees. At present, the Council appointee seat is vacant.
Council opposed, Mayor in favour
In March, Councillors Bernie Morelli and Terry Whitehead – the two City Council members – voted against the proposed 3.71% increase. Mayor Bob Bratina and the three provincial appointees all supported the budget. (The Council appointee seat is vacant following the resignation of Jim Kay in January)
Mayor Bratina stood by his support of the Chief’s budget at the Council budget meeting on April 3rd and stated last week he will be supporting the Chief’s recommendation.
Councillor Bernie Morelli said today that he will not support the Chief’s position of hiring new staff with the 3.52% budget, noting that Council expressly instructed the Chief to not hire the new staff.
Morelli notes the new officers will represent a new budget pressure for 2014 as a significant increase to the operating budget.
The Police Services Board will make a decision at their meeting, which begins at 4pm, today.