Esquimalt balks at police budget

Township wants to pay about $234,000 less for policing

Esquimalt municipal council is still refusing to pay its full share of this year’s police budget.

Council is not expected to approve its municipal budget until May 9, however the township is looking at paying about $234,000 less for policing.

At the heart of the matter is a $430,000 shortfall in federal tax dollars for CFB Esquimalt properties last year, which Esquimalt is appealing.

“If we won the appeal, then whatever additional (funds) we get would go and be divided as per all the usual percentages,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

The difference may create some tension on the Victoria police board and between the neighbouring municipalities.

“It potentially is going to be a different point to work with,” Desjardins admitted.

In February, Esquimalt balked at the 2011 police bill, which includes a $2.2-million increase to pay for salary increases and six new hires. Esquimalt’s proposed share is $6.4 million, while Victoria’s is $35.8 million of the total $42 million budget.

“If we weren’t to get that money then we’d have to perhaps delay any hiring,” said Scott Seivewright, VicPD’s controller.

Less money might have implications if one of the department’s 243 officers were to leave the force in the next few months.

“Anytime you are under that strength, it does affect the workload for others,” Seivewright said.

Esquimalt resisted paying $400,000 last year for the hiring of two new officers to patrol the Ellice Street homeless shelter. The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General ordered the township to pay all but $10,000 – Esquimalt’s share of the hires.

A request for an interview with Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, chair of the Victoria police board, was denied until the city receives final word on Esquimalt’s decision.

emccracken@vicnews.com