Toronto police board approves new budget
Published Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:24PM EDT
Toronto's police board has voted to approve a new operating budget, after striking a deal with Chief Bill Blair to avoid layoffs next year.
It will see the force cut 4.6 per cent from its 2012 budget, according to the Toronto Police Services Board, bringing total spending to $936.3 million.
However, those budget numbers are based on the 2012 starting budget, which was $979 million. That means that police spending will actually rise slightly compared to the 2011 budget, which was of $930 million.
An outside committee will help find further reductions of 5.4 per cent in the 2013 budget, which may lead to some layoffs that year.
"It's been a long and difficult process but I think we have now come to a budget which reflects a very sincere effort to manage our costs," Blair told reporters on Thursday, including by maintaining a hiring freeze.
However, critics point out that the 2012 budget won't actually see the police budget shrink.
"They can spin it any way they want. They're not fooling anybody in this city," said city councillor Adam Vaughan. "We're spending more on policing than last year. That's an increase."
Blair caused a stir at City Hall earlier this month when he asked for a budget of $944.7 million — a 1.5 per cent jump from the 2011 budget and only $8 million more than the reworked budget approved on Thursday.
Mayor Rob Ford had demanded that all city departments find 10 per cent in savings for the 2012 budget. Ford had said he wouldn't budge on his demand.
"I've made it quite clear that we're looking for 10 per cent and I'm not leaving any rock unturned," Ford said in early October.
Blair had earlier said he would have to lay off police officers in order to meet the reductions.
About 85 per cent of the police force's budget is allotted to salaries and employee benefits, making is difficult to reduce the budget without reducing the workforce.
The force is expected to lose 200 officers through attrition this year that will not be replaced.
With a report from CTV's Michelle Dube