Thunder Bay Police projecting 2023 budget deficit
September 19, 2023 By Kevin Jeffrey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Sep. 19, 2023, Thunder Bay, Ont. – More information is being gathered for the newest members of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board on this year’s budget, which is projected to have a deficit of $1.6 million.
Wayne Bahlieda and Kasey Etreni were officially sworn in and sat through their first meeting Tuesday morning after being appointed to the board earlier in the month.
They both voted in favour of receiving more information in October about financials and how they were presented to the board in the past.
Administrator Malcolm Mercer stated that the previous practice of listing outstanding or unpaid invoices was a poor use of important board time.
“There’s a risk of the board getting distracted on things that are easy to talk about, but aren’t the hard things that need to be talked about,” he said.
“I support the hard and thoughtful work that secretary John Hannam has done to provide a summary report showing where you stand in comparison to the current budget. That then allows the board members to ask questions about departments where costs aren’t as they were predicted to be and ask why. That to me is a much more intelligent use of time and more specifically to the existing budget.”
Mercer added when it comes to the budget, the board has had to make significant adjustments following the Ontario Civilian Police Commission report in 2018 conducted by Murray Sinclair.
“I counted 115 recommendations that the board needs to come to terms with, and either adopt new policies or take new initiatives that will require significant time to accomplish. It requires a lot of meetings. We established new members of the governance committee. We established three working groups which meet separately. To be able to do that work, we need staff present and involved and they’re part-time and they get paid.”
Etreni noted that she would like to see the establishment of a financial committee, adding that there are key pieces regarding accountability that are missing.
Police Chief Darcy Fleury said the latest numbers don’t impact the way that the service does business.
“It does definitely put a finer lens on to where we’re going to be asking for additional resources this year,” Fleury said. “I think that’s something that in the next couple of months we will have to put together properly.”
As of June 30, administration is projecting a budget deficit of $1.6 million.
Personnel services are estimated to be $2.6 million over budget, which includes $1 million for wages and benefits resulting from the retirement entitlements of several senior sworn members as well as other anticipated payouts of accumulated vacation entitlements.
There is also a cost overrun of $750,000 in overtime, $185,000 in WSIB expenditures and $630,000 in paid duty wages.
The board also had to spend $100,000 more for legal fees and an extra $93,000 on additional software licensing costs for specialized software for Cyber Crime and Intelligence led activities, and additional equipment and project related expenses associated with additional funding received for Intelligence initiatives.
In the report presented Tuesday, there is a surplus in provincial grant revenues ($365,000) and User Fees ($741,000).
The board’s next meeting will be Oct. 17.
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