"It doesn’t inspire confidence in the process when board member and mayor Bob Bratina compliantly says the board needs to take the conversation away from numbers and educate the public and council on why the increase is needed.
After all, Bratina noted, it’ll only cost the average household another $30 a year"
Doesn't sound like Bratina is much interested in any fiscal austerity at all for the Hamilton police budget.
Here's a CBC Hamilton article on what reducing the police budget from what is being requested would result in, according to Chief De Caire. Apparently 20 less positions and some overnight closures for two stations. I'm a bit confused as to what that means. From my understanding, this increase will fund 20 new positions. So is De Caire saying that 20 positions would be lost from the present staff, or the staffing would stay the same next year? Considering crime is trending down and Hamilton has an aging population, more police don't seem necessary.
I would say that one of my biggest issues with the police budget isn't that adding police wouldn't be good, but rather that the salary costs for an additional officer have risen so much (take a look at the 2011 city sunshine list) that they're not good value for money. Better to return the money to taxpayers or use it for infrastructure that will increase the city's productivity like paying the City's portion for the East West LRT.
Also the chief claims to be trying to save money, but as I'm writing this, the weather is pretty poor out. Why does that matter? The police mounted unit costs around $600K a year and I'm guessing it isn't deployed today, or if it is, with much reduce effectiveness. Hamilton has months of cold and snowy weather that limits the effectiveness of the horse unit. Plus the horses leave excrement everywhere (for example this week in the alley off John Street North leading to the Bingo hall parking lot downtown). If De Caire was serious about watching costs, the mounted unit would be gone.