At Nelson City Council’s Nov. 23 meeting, the Nelson Police Board asked for a 1.94 per cent budget increase for 2021.
This would be an increase of $70,935 toward a total proposed budget of $3,712,088.
Chief Paul Burkart, presenting on behalf of the board, said most of the increase will fund the annual wage increase built into the collective agreement with the police union. He reminded council that just under 90 per cent of the police budget goes to wages.
“We are adding a bit to our beat officer every year,” he said. “We had hoped to add a 19th officer this year but we have decided to put this off. We know it is a difficult time, and we know there are cutbacks.”
Municipal police departments, of which the Nelson Police Department is one of 11 in the province, are legally required to submit budget proposals in the fall of each year for the coming year, although councils do not vote on them or approve them until the spring.
Burkart said the department will lose revenue from the provincial government, which pays the police department to house prisoners for court appearances, many of which now occur by video during COVID-19, so there is no need for prisoners to travel.
His department is making a variety of other cutbacks, he said, to offset that and other lost revenue.
Budget increases or decreases for the department since 2015 have been 5.3 per cent (2015), minus 2.3 per cent (2016), 6.8 per cent (2017), 3.2 per cent (2018), 6.1 per cent (2019), and 3.5 per cent (2020).
Members of the Nelson Police Board are Am Naqvi, Jane Byers, Liz Edwards, Sue Adam, Lena Horswill and Mayor John Dooley (chair).