In what could be a sign of increasing scrutiny of the Hamilton Police Services by Hamilton City Council, police were told to come back to council Friday December 9th prepared to be grilled on a list of proposed police capital projects totalling $31 Million. The move took place as the General Issues Committee met to hear presentations about the upcoming capital budget. The committee examined a number of capital spending proposals including bike lanes on the Clairmont Access. When Clr. Sam Merulla proposed to have all of the proposals tabled for a meeting this coming Friday at which time they would undergo detailed examination, Police Board Chair Clr. Lloyd Ferguson asked that the police matter be dealt with immediately so that senior officers who were sitting in the audience would not have to come back a second time. Ferguson said that in doing so council would not be approving anything at that point, rather simply receiving the report. But Clr. Tom Jackson demanded assurances that accepting the police capital report would not be portrayed at some later date as council approval for the projects. In the end it was decided to have the police matter dealt with along with the other items.
The police capital budget includes a new command van and relocation of the marine unit. The biggest ticket item is a proposed new police station. costing $25 Million to serve the rapidly growing Binbrook, Mount Hope and Flamborough areas. The shift in council mood towards police matters comes on the heels of the debate on the recently approved $24 Million forensic building where it was revealed that the police service had scored a $2.4 Million windfall from policing the Pan Am Games which they proposed to use towards the new building along with revelations that police had been able to stash away cash reserves over the years totalling $10 Million from budgets approved by council, leaving $14Million to be financed through a mortgage. The building project was approved but only after some councillors were critical of accumulation of surpluses in police budgets that at the time of their presentation to council were described as “bare-bones”.