A day after city council reviewed a preliminary budget forecast that pegs the tax increase at 5.6 per cent, Greater Sudbury Police outlined its 2020 forecast with a 5.5 per cent hike on roughly a $60 million budget.
While city staff say they are determined to get the increase down to 3.5 per cent, and have directed police to do the same, police officials don't see the wiggle room to reduce the hike.
Among the rising costs next year include fuel and natural gas costs increasing by close to five per cent because of the carbon tax, seven per cent hike in water/sewer charges from the city, a 6.7 per cent hike in insurance and a 20 per cent increase in WSIB premiums that will cost $535,000 for emergency responders.
“These are very preliminary forecasts and do not consider possible impacts of changes to the Comprehensive Ontario Police Act, ongoing impacts of the Cannabis Act or any other legislative changes that are unknown at this time,” said a report to Wednesday's police services board meeting. “There has been no reflection of the loss in provincial funding, and allocations are simply recorded at existing levels for revenue sources and grants.”
Added to the list is a new collective agreement that will lead to wage hikes and $500,000 set aside for a new headquarters estimated to cost $65 million in the long term.
Neither Police Chief Paul Pedersen or CAO Sharon Baiden would speak about the budget after the meeting, but police services board chair Michael Vagnini said the challenge for police is about 90 per cent of their spending is on salaries.
“And you know, there are a lot of things two years ago that we didn't have to deal with, cannabis and the policing of cannabis being one of them,” Vagnini said. “Most of our budget (goes) to salaries, wages and benefits so there is not a lot of wiggle room.”
And funding cuts from the province are likely, he said, although exactly what they will look like is still up in the air.
“With the change in government at the provincial level … I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg and we're going to see a lot more changes,” Vagnini said.
“What are those changes look like, we'll have to wait and see. But for us to (reduce the increase to 3.5 per cent) right at this point in time, we don't know what everything else is going to look like. There are a lot of unanswered questions.”