At its last meeting the Hamilton Police Services Board voted against having its books audited separately from the City of Hamilton. This is a mistake. At $154 Million per year the Police budget exceeds by far that of other city funded boards and agencies who do currently conduct separate audits—the Library being just one example. Theoretically the police service is currently audited as part of the overall city external audit process, but that means only a small fraction of the auditor’s attention will be spent on the police file—the bulk of the auditor’s time will be spent on the city’s other departments. That level of scrutiny is insufficient for the amount of tax dollars being allocated. To call for enhanced auditing is not to suggest anything untoward in the police finances, but auditors can often suggest ways of tightening up financial controls and recommend measures that will actually save money. Police budgets have been a source of controversy in this current term of council. Police budgets in Ontario generally have increased at approximately double the rate of inflation in recent years. The public who have very little say in paying for these increases at least deserve to know that there is an appropriate amount of professional financial scrutiny being applied to them.
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