BY CRAIG GILBERT
The Greater Sudbury Police Service is going to beef up its presence in the outlying communities, but not by as much as originally planned.
Uncertainty over a provincial funding program that gives municipalities matching funds for new hires has lead the police board to ask for five officers in 2005, not 15 as they planned.
The plan is to phase in the other 10 in 2006 and 2007, when more information will be available, according to Chief Ian Davidson.
?We think it makes more sense economically to wait, make sense of what (the province) is going to do so we can take advantage of every dime before us,? he said.
Though the service is still getting 50-cent dollars for officers hired in 1998, there is no guarantee the funding formula will turn out to be too good to be true this time around, added police board chair Andy Humber.
But he believes the provincial dollars promised will be rolled into the province's base public safety budget and that the city could get the funding ?in perpetuity.?
The hires would cost the city $145,500, and the 4.9 percent increase to the police budget represents an average $3.04 tax increase to each household.
There are six outlying communities as far as the police force is concerned. Three of the five new hires would be dedicated to the rural squad, each one taking on either Levack, Capreol, Walden/Copper Cliff, Rayside Balfour, Valley East or Nickel Centre.
The other two 2005 hires will be split between youth and traffic enforcement.
It takes about a year and $100,000 to train a new officer. Sworn officers from other cities are always snatched up by the service, said Davidson, since they save the force that cost.
Council is expected to approve the $35-million police budget Wednesday when budget talks resume. Councillors called it ?responsible,? several noting the phone calls they've been getting from outlying communities complaining about a lack of police presence there.
?This is what I want to see,? said Ward 4 Councillor Russ Thompson.