It’s a known fact that a large deficit lies ahead for the City of Saint John in 2021.
The city will have to make about $10 million in cuts for next year’s budget, and with an election this year — time is of the essence.
“The city wants to try to get the present council to make the decisions on where the budget can be cut,” says Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary.
“Those decisions they hope to have made basically all by the end of March.”
At Monday’s city council meeting, councillors approved a letter to the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners calling for them to make $1.175 million in staffing cuts.
McAlary says it’s a situation all departments are facing.
“It’s up to them to (make) their decision, we’re not telling them necessarily who to cut or what positions to cut — they can look right across their entire operation.”
Duane Squires is president of the Saint John Police Association, which represents front line officers, investigators and more within the police force.
He says that, with the looming deficit well documented, the impending cuts are not a surprise — but hopes to see them come from offices, not officers.
“We’re cut enough right now.”
Squires calls the timing ironic, with the association set to negotiate contracts soon.
“We’re advocating for wage increases on par with other policing agencies across the province and Atlantic Canada as well,” he says.
Council’s letter to the Police Board of Commissioners includes several suggestions for where the money can come from: wage freezes, possible voluntary departure incentives, efficiency initiatives and the civilianization of certain police services.
The Saint John Police Association is set to start negotiating a new contract before the end of the month.
The Saint John Police Force will need to make the cuts by the end of the year.