Vancouver city councillors will hear options on how to fund the restoration of $5.7 million to the city’s police budget, which could include a property tax increase this year.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) had sought the money for its 2021 operating budget, but council voted in December 2020 to reject the request.
Last month, B.C.’s Director of Police Services overruled that decision and ordered the city to come up with the money.
A report from the city’s general manager of finance headed to council Tuesday proposes two options to cover the funding.
The first option involves taking the $5.7 million from the city’s General Revenue Stabilization Reserve, which wouldn’t involve amending the budget itself.
That reserve currently sits at about $33 million, far short of the city’s target of $100-$200 million.
The second option would involve amending the 2022 budget and raising property taxes by approximately 0.6 per cent.
The report says choosing this option would remove the need for council to come up with a permanent funding solution during the 2023 budget process.
The staff report is not the only item related to the VPD budget hike on Tuesday’s agenda.
Coun. Jean Swanson is also bringing a motion to council calling for the city to formally disagree with the order to retroactively fund the police department.
It also calls for the city to write B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to clarify “whether municipalities have any role in overseeing police budgets that they pay for, or whether they are simply a rubber stamp, and if they are not a rubber stamp, how municipalities can
have input into police budgets.”
Last month, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said council’s refusal to increase the VPD’s budget in 2021 was in the context of financial pressures early in the COVID-19 pandemic, “which was quite a dark time where all departments were asked to do more with less money.”
The VPD filed its appeal last spring, warning that withholding the funding request would mean hiring 60 fewer recruits and a reduction in police services.