OPS tables 2020 draft budget

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) tabled the 2020 Draft Operating and Capital Budget with the Ottawa Police Services board (OPSB) at a special meeting of the OPSB Wednesday morning (Nov. 6).

“The members of the OPS are proud to serve this great city and this budget is designed to deliver on Ottawa’s policing and public safety needs, increase member engagement and build on the public’s trust and confidence in the Service,” the OPS released in a statement yesterday.

“This budget makes key investments in Community Policing and member wellness. It ensures we are spending limited resources wisely by aligning with Ottawa Police strategic priorities, identifying process improvements and internal efficiencies,” OPSChief Peter Sloly said. “The budget provides us with the ability to grow our capacity to serve the needs of this dynamic city. It is important that we invest in policing and public safety in a way that ensures social and financial returns on investments.”

“This budget reflects the strategic direction the Board gave to the Service earlier this year and consequently, it invests in the same areas that residents, businesses, schools, councillors, Ottawa Police members, and other partners and stakeholders, told us we needed to prioritize,“ OPSB acting chair Sandy Smallwood said.

Budget financial highlights

The projected net operating budget for the OPS will be $319.2 million on a gross operating budget of $362.1 million with a police tax rate increase of 3 per cent.

This is a net incremental operating budget increase of $12.7 million over 2019. With the assessment growth assumption of 1.5 per cent, the budget results in a net increase to the police tax bill rate of $18 per year for the average household.

The 2020 budget includes continued funding from red light cameras, with an increase of $1.3 million in 2020 and one time funding from the city of $2.4 million. The OPS is forecasted to return $2.4 million in surplus to the city’s general reserve at the end of 2019.

Community policing

The draft budget includes the addition of 30 new sworn officer positions, deployed to bolster OPS Community Policing efforts. Thirteen of those new officers will support the creation of two additional Neighbourhood Resource Teams (NRTs), which will be deployed in neighbourhoods with elevated calls for service, street crime and property crime. This investment, which adds to the current three NRTs, will allow the service to build further community partnerships that focus on the root causes of crime and disorder, develop plans with the community to solve them and address underlying social justice issues facing residents and communities.

Other staffing investments will be made in Outreach and Recruiting and Community Development. As well, OPS has also leveraged provincial funding to add an additional two sworn officers to the Guns and Gangs Section.

The budget includes $4.2 million in investment in wellness programming including peer support, specialized health programming, unlimited access to professional psychological services and resiliency training.

“While that spending will continue, we have also begun to review those services to ensure that we are meeting the needs of members, keeping pace with best practices and identifying new opportunities to get our members the supports they deserve,” the OPS said. “This will enable our members to deliver more effective and productive service to the community.”

The budget includes funding for a permanent Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office that will strengthen community partnerships. The office will promote trust in policing and further develop an internal culture that actively promotes equity, diversity and inclusion.

The budget also identifies efficiencies and savings through internal administrative service improvements and realignments as well as the Back Office Integration Initiative. That initiative is working to share City of Ottawa administrative services as well as leveraging shared technologies.

The OPS wants to hear from residents and business about their thoughts on the 2020 budget. Public delegations and questions from Ottawa city councillors are welcome at the Nov. 14, Finance and Audit committee meeting at City Hall starting at 10 a.m. in the Colonel By Room, 110 Laurier Ave, second floor; and at the beginning of the regular meeting of the OPSB on Nov. 25, at 4 p.m. in the Champlain Room, 110 Laurier Ave., second floor.

The Ottawa police 2020 budget is scheduled for approval by the board on Nov. 25, and by City Council on Dec. 11.

A complete copy of the Ottawa Police Service 2020 Draft Operating and Capital Budget is available for viewing or downloading from ottawapolice.ca/reports. As well, it can be requested through info@ottawapolice.ca.