Toronto's top cop denied budget hike request
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 9:16AM EST
The city's top cop has to find some savings after the Toronto Police Services Board voted against increasing his budget for 2013.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair had been asking for a two per cent increase. That would have added approximately $19 million to the force's budget.
Instead, Blair has to find ways to save nearly $7 million.
"I'm not an accountant; all I know is that I want my city to be the place I grew up in and that I love," Blair told reporters following the unanimous vote Monday night.
The new numbers will mean fewer police on the streets, Blair said, predicting the force will be down 326 officers below their authorized strength by the end of next year.
"There won't be any hiring in 2013," Blair said, adding that maintaining that pace would lead to the city being down 425 officers by the summer of 2014.
The chief said the cuts also mean the training of 80 new hires approved by the board last month is in question.
"By taking nearly $10 million out of our budget, I don't think it'll be possible to actually pay their salaries," Blair said. "So that's one of the things I'll have to look very seriously at: whether it's possible to put that class forward."
But Police Services Board Vice Chair Michael Thompson disagrees.
"We haven't simply said, you know, we're not going to increase the budget and we're not sure as a board where the monies are coming from. We're, in fact, certain as to where the monies are coming from," the Ward 37 councillor told CTV News, suggesting the savings could come out of the board's annual surplus.
In order to achieve its zero-increase budget, the board proposed a hiring and promotion freeze that would net $6 million in savings, a $5 million cut to the vehicle and equipment reserve fund, as well as $1.4 million in premium pay cuts.
In total, the board approved a $927.8 million budget for the Toronto Police in 2013.
Blair had warned that, without a budget increase, the city should expect a serious impact on the force's ability to provide "adequate and effective public safety services to the City of Toronto."
When he was asked about it Monday night, Blair answered: "I'd keep Toronto safe if it was just me and two other guys."
With files from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaks about the budget, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.