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Lethbridge committee recommends increases to police budget through 2026

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge economic SPC recommends 2023-26 police budget'
Lethbridge economic SPC recommends 2023-26 police budget
Funding for frontline services was a key talking point during Thursday’s city of Lethbridge municipal budget deliberations. Erik Bay has the latest from city hall where the economic standing policy committee tackled one of its largest items so far – Nov 17, 2022

The City of Lethbridge’s economic committee began day four of budget deliberations with police funding.

On Thursday, the committee unanimously recommending police funding of more than $2 million in 2023, increasing to more than $4 million each of the following three years.

“We have an obligation to the citizens of Lethbridge. We need to assure them they are and will be safe no matter where they are — downtown or anywhere else,” said Coun. Nick Paladino.

“We came up with an action plan and I think as we circled around and spoke, one of the top things we discussed was community safety. This is a way that we can get to that point of community safety,” Mayor Blaine Hyggen said.

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That follows emergency service discussions from Wednesday, which could see 13 firefighters hired over the next three years. Those positions would be grant-funded, depending on contract negotiations with Alberta Health Services.

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The initiatives would add almost three-quarters of a per cent annually to property taxes.

Click to play video: 'Day 3 of Lethbridge budget talks focus on personnel; LPS initiatives pushed'
Day 3 of Lethbridge budget talks focus on personnel; LPS initiatives pushed

Some of the funding would adjust for the $1 million that was cut from police in 2021-22.

“We’re obviously happy with the support that we’ve received from council,” said LPS Deputy Chief Gerald Grobmeier. “We think it’s a very balanced approach.”

“You heard some talk about (how) we could’ve used 30 more police officers, but we’re trying to be realistic and reasonable.”

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The money would allow an additional 22 officers and 15.5 civilian positions to be hired, support that LPS members say is needed.

“Our overtime is up by 90 per cent this year, so that is a significant impact on every police officer we have,” Grobmeier said.

Another major spending recommendation approved Thursday was operational funding of $1.7 million for Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden over the next four years.

As of Thursday afternoon, the annual increase in property taxes could be more than five per cent if all of the approved recommendations are included in the final operating budget.

Click to play video: 'City of Lethbridge draft budget creeps higher as deliberations continue'
City of Lethbridge draft budget creeps higher as deliberations continue

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