With less money available from the province because of cutbacks, Kawartha Lakes Police Service is looking for a hand from the municipality.
Chair of the Kawartha Lakes Police Services Board Don Thomas presented the 2021 budget estimate to Kawartha Lakes council for their consideration, asking for a 1.49 per cent increase in funding. This would amount to an additional $123,294 allocated to the municipal police force whose responsibilities include Lindsay and part of the old Ops Township.
“We have had spirited discussion about this budget,” Thomas said, “and we believe it will provide efficient policing.”
Thomas reminded councillors this would be the first increase asked for by the police service since 2018. Budget requests from 2019 and 2020 both came in at zero per cent.
Thomas laid out the budget pressures KLPS is facing because of less money being transferred by the province.
“There are no more provincial grants to supply officers at the prison,” Thomas said, “but the prison still needs to be policed. There is also less money for court security and prisoner transport because of a provincial grant cut too.”
KLPS Chief Mark Mitchell then joined the ZOOM conversation asking council to reconsider moving forward with a $422,000 construction upgrade to the police station that was shelved by council in the fall.
“We need to renovate the property room at the station,” Mitchell said. “It was never intended as a workspace. There are issues with health and safety for the officer working there. The renovations would address that and improve property handling procedures.”
Mitchell suggested that the project be split over two years with the physical mechanical work amounting to $231,530 to be done in 2021 to address the officer health and safety issues and the upgraded lab equipment of about $190,000 to be left until 2022.
Councillor Pat Dunn was “happy with the budget” but concerned about a zero percent increase for officer training. Dunn, a retired OPP officer, said, when officers get into trouble “it is always because of inadequate training. I hope in 2022 you will see an increase there (for training).”
Councillor Doug Elmslie noted a discrepancy between the numbers being presented by the police board and what had been supplied to councillors, and wondered what was responsible for this.
Elmslie was told by the city treasurer, Carolyn Daynes, that the reason the police board numbers are lower is that responsibility for the running and maintenance of the police station falls under a different city department’s budget line and is added on top of the police service board numbers once submitted.
Council agreed to consider Mitchell’s idea for the police station work to be split over a two year timeframe. The 2021 request will be looked at again at the Feb. 16 council meeting, along with the police budget in its entirety.