Victoria police overtime bills for July 1 causing hiring delays

Canada Day incurs largest overtime costs at department

New Victoria police officers may not be immediately hired to offset overtime costs to police Canada Day in downtown Victoria.

The trend in the last two years has been to sometimes delay hiring for several months, allowing the department to keep to its allotted $2-million annual overtime budget.

“That’s one way of creating funds if you need them elsewhere,” said Victoria Police Department controller Scott Seivewright. “That’s one of our only flexibilities.”

With just days to go before tens of thousands of people flood into the downtown to celebrate Canada Day, Victoria police are winding up almost a year of preparation for their busiest day and most expensive overtime shift.

After racking up $128,000 in overtime costs last July 1, the department unsuccessfully asked for a $60,000 increase to its $40,000 Canada Day overtime budget. In 2010, the overtime bill was $63,000, over budget by $23,000.

Uniformed members, such as patrol officers, are paid time-and-a-half if they work the statutory holiday. The majority of VicPD officers from other units, who are called in specially to work the Canada Day shift, are paid double time.

If this year’s Canada Day overtime budget goes over by $60,000, the department may consider delaying the hiring of two replacement officers by four months, equivalent to about $60,000.

“But, again, we don’t have those officers working for those four months,” Seivewright said of the drawbacks, reason why the department asked for more money.

The police department currently has a full roster of 243 officers.

The department is deploying about the same number of officers to police Canada Day this year as it did in 2011, though police wouldn’t say how many. Outlying services, such as the Oak Bay Police Department, will provide additional uniformed support at no cost to Victoria.

“The police chief and deputy chiefs ensure that we have adequate resources (on duty), and if we need to reallocate budgets to make that happen then that’s what we do,” Seivewright said.

emccracken@vicnews.com