Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella speaks to the board of police commissioners during an in-person meeting in January 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

The city’s board of police commissioners is recommending an increased Halifax Regional Police budget for the year ahead.

At a special virtual meeting on Thursday, the board voted unanimously in favour of a 3.1% increase to the HRP budget — from $86.3 million in the current fiscal year to $88.9 million for 2021-2022, the fiscal year starting April 1.

It’s still more than $1 million less than the board recommended this time last year, before COVID-19 put a crater in the city budget and councillors slashed $3.5 million from policing.

Municipal finance staff asked HRP to keep the budget to $88.6 million — an increase of $2.3 million or 2.7%.

But the board voted to include an extra $332,000 for what the police called “service enhancements.”

Those include $85,000 for a one-year term employee to write a detailed report on body-worn cameras after the board pushed that issue ahead a year, $101,200 for an online training technician, and $60,000 for a training course, and $85,800 for a new court dispositions clerk.

The board voted to recommend the $88.9 million budget to council’s budget committee.

Councillors are tasked with approving the number, but have no jurisdiction over what’s included in the police budget. They can either approve the number, or send it back to the board of police commissioners with a request for either a higher or lower number.

The board is expected to receive presentations next month on HRP’s capital budget, and Halifax-district RCMP’s preliminary budget. The RCMP budget isn’t finalized until April. In 2020-2021, it was $27.8 million and it’s expected to be similar in 2021-2022.

The board asked for a presentation on what’s in HRP’s capital budget to try to avoid surprises like the armoured vehicle that was included in the capital budget in 2019-2020. Council cancelled that purchase during last year’s budget discussion in response to the defund the police movement.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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