Policing budget clarity established

Overtime budget used in cases of staffing shortages

A full complement was not in service for the special council meeting of July 28, but there were enough members to quickly deal with a light agenda.

Councillors Kevin Chernoff, Russ Hearne and Deb McIntosh were unavailable as Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and Councillors Duff, Krueckl and Turner handled the workload.

Topping the list was a matter clarification on the City of Castlegar’s annual policing budget. Director of Finance Andre Buss indicated in a report that he had met on July 19 with local RCMP Sergeant L. Mathew and RCMP Finance Clerk Mr. T. McRae to discuss the budget and a related request from RCMP headquarters. The request sought confirmation that the City of Castlegar authorize 13 officers at a cost of $145,330 each. That amount reflects an increase of 3.81 per cent over the previous year.

The correspondence included an amount for overtime – an increase of 40.8 per cent. The bump in OT had pushed the per capita policing cost beyond the nationally accepted 3.81 per cent level. The issue was essentially a matter of bookkeeping.

Finance director Buss, in his report, informed council he learned from the RCMP parties that a jump in the overtime budget was not their intent, but that OT is often used to make up for manpower shortages in the detachment.

“When RCMP members go on any form of long-term leave the municipality is not charged for the cost of that member,” Buss’s report outlines.

“This creates a surplus in the per-capita budget line item, but because the detachment must make up for the staff shortages and provide adequate coverage, a deficit is then incurred in the overtime budget line item and there is no need to increase the overall RCMP budget.

“As municipalities with populations of 5,000 to 15,000 pay 70 per cent of their policing costs, Castlegar, with the 3.81 per cent increase is committed to paying a total of $1,345,620 for a 13-member detachment. The overtime portion of that amount is $33,025.