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Halifax’s chief of police laid out two more options for a trimmed-back budget for the force at a virtual meeting of the city’s board of police commissioners on Monday.
Chief Dan Kinsella originally presented the board with a cut of $5.5 million to his budget as part of the process to cut $85.4 million from the city’s overall operating budget. The $5.5 million cut would mean leaving 28 positions vacant in the department — 18 current vacancies (nine sworn officers and nine civilian positions) and 10 expected retirements (eight sworn officers and two civilians).
Kinsella has told the police board and councillors there was no threat to public safety due to the cuts, but he said there would inevitably be things not done due to the short-staffing.
The board of police commissioners approved the $5.5 million cut earlier this month, sending a recommendation in favour to Halifax regional council’s budget committee.
Concerned about cuts to emergency services, the budget committee asked the police and fire departments to come back with options cutting their budgets by $4.5 million and $3.5 million instead.
Kinsella’s new options would leave fewer positions vacant over the next year.
“With the $4.5 million in reduction proposal, we’re still going to have 19 staffing vacancies. With the ($3.5 million) we’ll still have 12. So that’s better. That gives us more officers to deploy,” he said.
“The takeaway from this is it’s not business as usual and as a result of that we’re not going to be able to fill every position because with either scenario we’re still going to have some vacancies.”
The original $5.5 million cut also included 61 full-time equivalent crossing guards off the job til at least September and six term layoffs. Those numbers would remain unchanged under any scenario.
The $5.5 million and $4.5 million cuts include a 25% reduction in budgeted overtime and court time. The $3.5 million cut would only reduce those budgets by 20%, according to Kinsella’s presentation.
The board voted to send the two options up to the budget committee for consideration along with the first. The budget committee meets Tuesday morning.
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