In late 2013 when Hamilton Police Services Chief Glenn DeCaire submitted a $144 Million dollar budget proposal Hamilton councillors praised him for his frugality. Police Board member Terry Whitehead, a critic of the size of police budget increases in past called it “one of the most impressive budgets the police service has brought forward … I think we put their feet to the fire, so to speak.” The next year when Hamilton Police services submitted its 2015 operating budget De Caire defended it as being as low as it could possibly go. “Our staff has done an excellent job at getting this to be where it is, at the lowest amount,” he said.
But at the sod turning ceremony for the new Police Forensic Building earlier this month, Police Board Chair Lloyd Ferguson talked proudly of the way the new $24 Million facility would be financed without adding a penny to the annual tax levy. Part of the windfall came in the form of $4.5 Million in accumulated operating surpluses the police service racked up in 2014 and 2015 –budgets that at the time of their presentation had been described as the bare minimum necessary to provide policing for the city.. The 2014 surplus was $900,000. The 2015 surplus was $3.6 Million. $1.5 Million of that amount was the profit the city made billing the province of Ontario for policing the Pan Am Games. The police service trimmed its out-of-pocket Pan Am costs to $1.4 Million by cancelling overtime and holidays; but billed the province for $2.9 Million—the amount the HWPS had estimated would be its costs. The Pan Am contract stipulated that only actual costs would be reimbursed but paid the Hamilton bill nonetheless. Pan Am windfall aside, the 2015 Police budget yielded more than a $2 Million operating surplus.
Another $3 Million towards the project will come from an account, Development Charges Reserve. Currently the Police Service is sitting on cash reserves of more than $24 Million. These reserves are intended for things like sick leave, vacation pay and retirement bonuses; but so far those costs appear to be met in the day to day budget and as a result the reserves have steadily grown.