The Vancouver Police Department has prepared two proposals for next year’s operating budget – one of $ 325 million, the other of $ 328 million – which significantly exceeds the amount recommended by City Hall’s finance team.
City staff have recommended that the Vancouver Police Board adopt an operating budget for 2022 of $ 321 million to comply with the city council’s directive to keep property taxes at five percent or less for next year.
The $ 321 million would be an increase of $ 5.4 million compared to the $ 316 million approved in December 2020 for this year’s police budget – but $ 3.9 million less than the $ 325 million that VPD wants for next year to maintain existing service levels, and $ 6.5 million less if new investments were included.
The proposals were outlined in a VPD report released Tuesday, to be decided by the Vancouver Police Board on Thursday. Whatever budget proposal the board chooses will be forwarded to the city council, which in December begins consideration of the city’s total operating and capital budgets.
The report pointed out that the city staff’s proposed budget only supports budget increases for certain fixed costs and includes a $ 1.4 million reduction to hold additional vacancies, equivalent to about 15 fewer police recruits.
“The board and VPD have not agreed on this proposed budget or city-imposed reduction,” the report said.
VPD’s proposed $ 325 million request includes an increase in fixed, contractual and third-party costs, with the department saying “this is the minimum budget to allow VPD to maintain the current existing level of public security services for Vancouver people and businesses.”
“There are no new or additional staff positions included in this proposal,” the report said.
The $ 328 million request includes funding for additional staff according to the recommendations of a department’s operational review conducted years ago – and approved by a previous council – and additional funding for local police centers.
VPD’s authorized force would be increased by a further 20 police officers and 10 civilians under this scenario.
Over the course of the year, VPD has reported running a deficit, and a recent estimate is that it would exceed $ 7 million by the end of the year – for the first time in 16 years, the department has been in a deficit situation.
In addition, the Police Department is awaiting a decision from Wayne Rideout, BC’s Director of Police Services, who is reviewing the Council’s decision in December 2020 not to include $ 5.6 million in VPD’s 2021 budget request.
As VIA reported on Monday, Rideout’s decision is expected in early January.
On Monday, members of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Pivot Legal Society and Defund 604 Network published results of a “people’s budget” that showed that 86 percent of respondents want 50 percent of VPD’s budget reinvested in peer-led community services and programs.
Thursday’s police board meeting begins at 1 p.m.