TORONTO — Toronto Police Service Board has approved a billion-dollar 2016 budget – an increase of 2.76 per cent, or $27 million, over the previous year.
That’s still less than the original police budget proposal, which requested a 5.8 per cent increase.
The new budget will now be brought to budget committee and executive committee before going to council in 2016.
This is the first time the Toronto police budget has topped $1 billion.
It includes an extra $1.9 million in leap-year costs.
The vast majority of the police budget goes to salary costs.
Mayor John Tory said Thursday he was pleased to reach the next step of progress in the budgeting process.
“The budget process is a continuous thing and you are looking at an organization whose board, chief and chair have committed themselves to the fundamental change that is necessary going forward,” Tory said.
“This year’s budget is what it is. We certainly made some progress since we started this process and we have much more progress to be made.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said he will make do with the budget he has.
“One of my roles is not just to keep the community safe, but also to consider the cost of keeping the community safe,” said Saunders.
“Whatever the final count is with this thing, I’m going to do everything I can to make it work.”
Tory spoke about leaked details from a KPMG report that suggests cost cutting efficiencies to Toronto Police.
“A lot of what the KPMG report recommends is a series ideas and they deal with how you deploy police officers, how can you perhaps use police officers to do certain things,” Tory said, citing an example that would use civilian resources in car theft instances.
Saunders was quick to note the report, which was commissioned in 2014 by former Police Chair Alok Mukherjee, was requested by the board and not Toronto Police.
“I’ve got the largest municipal police organization in Canada, third largest in North America,” Saunders said.
“In order to move those parts, you cant do it over night…I’m not going to make change for the sake of making change. that is a failure. I’m going to make change because it’s sustainable, it’s the right thing for Toronto and it enhances safety.”
The report will be made publicly available ahead of the Dec. 17 Toronto Police Board meeting.