Hamilton Police Chief Eric Girt has asked his board to approve a 2021 combined operating and capital budget of $177 Million-a 3.32 percent increase over the current year. The new budget would require and addition $5.6 Million–$4.3 Million of which are employee -related costs arising out of a new collective agreement with the police union earlier this year. There is also an operating cost increase of $1.6 Million-the biggest item there being the cost of operating the new forensic building, which opened last September, for a full 12 months in 2021.
The 2021 HPS budget request includes two new hires, one a detective constable, the other would be a full-time equity, diversity and inclusion civilian position. The EDI hire was recommended in the report that followed the investigation into the Police handling of the disturbance at the Hamilton Pride event last year in Gage Park.
During 2020, the HPS incurred unexpected costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HPS is anticipating to fully recover those COVID costs of approximately $0.58M in 2020 through government funding. This funding will increase the Service’s year- end variance by $0.58M. This funding can potentially be applied to offset some of the 2021 budget pressures, which will result in a decrease of the 2021 HPS total combined budget request from 3.32% to 2.98%. While decreasing the budget is advantageous, use of this funding for the reduction of the 2021 budget will create pressures in the following year as there is no guarantee that the Service will be able to replicate this revenue. The Service anticipates continued pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. If the Board does not select this alternative, the $0.58M will be placed in HPS reserves.
Chief Girt reminded the board that Hamilton compares favourably with several other Ontario municipalities in officers per 100,000 population.