Edmonton city councillors are debating a new funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service in an effort to provide stable, predictable funding for the service.
“The funding formula is to give certainty and predictability to organizations that they will continue to receive a certain amount of money over the long term,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi explained Monday.
The formula would provide EPS an operating budget of just over $407 million for 2023.
A report presented to city council Monday estimated that would be a tax levy increase of about 0.4 per cent, about $7 million, according to Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford.
The formula would no longer take revenue into account, like photo radar fines, which are declining.
The service would be able to ask council for extra money for specific projects or new infrastructure.
Every two years, the formula would be adjusted to take population growth and inflation into account.
Those changes would require the city to hold a non-statutory public hearing.
The formula was developed as part of an overall police budget review.
Among the findings, the review found Edmonton has the highest average costs per capita when comparing seven similar cities.
While Edmonton spends $397 per capita, Winnipeg spends $360, Calgary spends $357 and Regina spends $354.
The review also found Edmonton has one of the lowest costs per incident when comparing seven cities.
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While Edmonton spends an average of $4,503 per call, York Regional Police Services averaged $10,056 per call. Regina spends about $3,444 per call.
Sohi said that while the city needs to continue to fund police, it needs to also focus on funding for social services.
“This is so important that we have the balanced approach,” the mayor told reporters Monday.
“Continue to invest in social programs and social services and at the same time provide adequate funding to the police.”
The budgeting review was performed by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA). EPS Chief Dale McFee serves as the president and chair of the organization.
On Monday, councillors pressed police representatives on whether there was a conflict of interest choosing the organization to complete the review.
A representative with the Edmonton Police Commission told councillors there was no conflict of interest.
The report states that “while the chiefs… provided information and data related to budgeting processes, the project team took its direction and advice solely from the executive directors of the Edmonton Police Commission (EPC).”
Rutherford said there were “inherent biases” in the CSKA report, adding that there is other information on police funding that was not included.
“(It) makes me doubt the quality of the content,” she said.
Sohi said he did not think council should make a decision on the proposed formula Monday, especially ahead of fall budget talks.
“It deserves scrutiny and deserves the in-depth analysis about the value for money and the outcomes that we want to achieve and the safety and wellness that we need to improve in our city.”
A decision on the formula was pushed to the Oct. 7 council meeting.