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Police budget ‘in good shape’ despite some cost overruns, chief says

The Board of Police Commissioners discussed the police service's budget during the board's recent November meeting.
Moose Jaw police wall sign

The Moose Jaw Police Service may be over budget in nine revenue and expense categories this year, but the police chief says the organization’s finances are still in good shape.

The police service had spent 78.6 per cent of its budgeted expenses as of Nov. 1, leaving roughly $2.7 million to be spent. 

Its total budgeted expenses for 2022 are $12.7 million.

Meanwhile, the police service had received 34.98 per cent of its budgeted revenues while waiting for more than $1 million in outstanding revenues. 

Its total budgeted revenues for 2022 are $1.5 million.

In total, the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) had completed 84.74 per cent of its net budget, with $3.7 million in budgeted expenses/revenue remaining. 

“Overall, we’re running in good shape this year,” Police Chief Rick Bourassa said while presenting the organization’s monthly budget update during the recent Board of Police Commissioners meeting. 

The police service may have a year-end surplus because of several officer vacancies, he continued. If that happens, the unspent money will flow into the accumulated surplus. The agency will likely know its overall total at the end of February. 

The police service is over budget in six expense categories by a total of $51,069.34, with the biggest over expenditure being $30,861.31 in the vehicle maintenance category, added Bourassa. It has been difficult to acquire new vehicles to replace aging ones that require regular repairs, while fuel costs have been higher than anticipated. 

The good news with acquiring new vehicles is some of the ones the MJPS has ordered are finally arriving, said Deputy Chief Rick Johns. This means the agency can start decommissioning older units, which should reduce this expense category next year.

The other eight expense categories that are over budget and their dollar/percentage variance are:

  • Travel and conventions: $2,027.46 / 140.55 per cent
  • Education and training: $14,811.92 / 124.69 per cent
  • Subscriptions and publications: $1,191.28 / 147.65 per cent
  • Radio communications: $2,15.64 / 126.88
  • Prisoner meals: $26.73 / 100.67

The police service is catching up on educating and training its members because the pandemic prevented officers from attending courses, explained Bourassa. Meanwhile, subscriptions are expensive because of licensing fees and maintenance agreements for software programs. However, both areas should improve next year.

The three revenue categories that are over budget include:

  • Unclaimed/seized property: $1,143 / 214.30 per cent
  • Alarm response annual fees: $6,715 / 122.38 per cent
  • Alarm response false alarms: $407 / 105.09 per cent

Commissioner Doug Blanc pointed to the over $1 million in outstanding revenues and noted that other police agencies are in similar situations because they expected that funding in July. He wondered if this was unusual compared to past years.

He also noted that prisoner meals are $26 over budget and asked about that.

Many revenue categories are based on transfer agreements with the province or municipality, but those transfers haven’t happened yet, said Bourassa. The delays in some categories are somewhat later than expected — but they are coming. 

The provincial transfers are late because the provincial government was still signing contractual agreements. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice usually issues funding quarterly.

Meanwhile, the MJPS is a regional detention centre and accepts prisoners from other agencies such as the RCMP, he continued. So, the police service will recover that extra $26.73 in that category. 

“I’m not suggesting you take their Pop-Tarts and cut them in half,” chuckled Blanc. 

The next Board of Police Commissioners meeting is Thursday, Dec. 8. 

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