2022 police budget higher than target, says chief

Sarnia Police cruiser outside police headquarters on Christina Street. May 23, 2019. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, BlackburnNews)

Sarnia’s police chief says the service’s proposed 2022 budget is higher than what they were aiming for.

Last week, the police services board approved an operating budget of $27,258,305, an annual increase of 4.7% over last year’s approved budget.

Chief Norm Hansen said it’s a higher increase than they’ve had in the past.  He said there were a number of factors driving the increase, including the Next Generation 9-1-1 expenditure.

“It’s a high technology, high equipment cost.  We’ve budgeted over $360,000 for it, but it may not even be enough, we don’t know yet.  But, it’s been mandated by the provincial government, who we’re getting no help from.”

Hansen said the system, which is expected to go live in 2023, will also be on next year’s budget.

“And it was on last year’s budget as well because we’re trying to get ahead of the game, rather than suddenly being stuck with a million dollars at a time kind of thing — we’re trying to prepare slowly for it.”

Hansen said other expenditures in the budget include a negotiated four-year contract settlement.

“We also are increasing our complement by two officers as per a contract agreement, and we got approval for a new junior IT person.”

Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen Blackburn News Sarnia File photo (By Melanie Irwin)

Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen Blackburn News Sarnia File photo (By Melanie Irwin)

Hansen said the addition of four new officers, outlined in the 2019 budget, has certainly made an impact for the service.

“It’s bolstered the platoons, and by the end of the following contract, it will be four more total.  So, over the course of the last four years, we’ll have increased by eight officers, and those are going directly to the platoons to man the streets.”

Hansen said the service’s uniform complement will increase to 119 by the end of a new contract.

He added that every budget takes months to prepare.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our financial person, Cathy Dam.  She puts most of it together, but she’s always in contact with myself and the deputy to see if there’s anything — obviously there’s more things we would like to ask for, but we can’t load too much on the taxpayer.”

City council will consider police spending during budget deliberations set for December 7.