Ottawa police propose $13.4M spending increase for 2024

By Alex Black

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has tabled a draft operating budget worth $372.4-million for 2024.

The proposed spending plan, which represents a $13.4-million increase over 2023, contains a 2.5 per cent tax increase.

That works to an approximate $17 increase on your tax bill, bringing the total for policing to $697 for the average urban household.

The OPS says the draft document, which was tabled at a special meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB) Tuesday morning, focuses on new staffing, operation stability and delivering on the boards strategic priorities.

“This budget includes important investments in staffing, the development of a district policing model, more coordinated outreach strategies and follows the direction of the board on a tax levy,” said police chief Eric Stubbs. “The budget is directly aligned to the board’s new strategic plan (scheduled for approval in November) enhancing community safety, advancing and supporting a resilient, thriving membership, building trust through strong partnerships, and improving equity, diversity, and inclusion, while strengthening our commitment to human rights.”

The development of the draft budget was heavily guided by public feedback gathered through consultation over the summer.

The OPS says that feedback showed continued concerns about crime across the city and that customized approaches to policing are required in the urban, suburban and rural areas.

Members of the public also expressed a need for new approaches to policing in order to deal with social issues and key operational priorities — like traffic safety, violence against women, auto theft and gun violence.

“This year’s budget cycle benefitted from the extensive consultations conducted to inform the board’s strategic plan,” said board chair Dr. Gail Beck. “But the consultation period isn’t over yet. We look forward to continuing to hear from the public about the 2024 Draft Budget.”

Draft 2024 budget highlights (from OPS):

  • Thee draft budget launches a three-year ‘Staff Stabilization Strategy,’ which in 2024, the will include 25 growth hires as well as 40 hires to replace positions vacated due to WSIB or long term disability.
  • When fully implemented over three years, the service says the strategy will total 555 sworn and civilian positions (185 hires/year) which includes hiring for attrition, retirements, growth positions and hiring for positions that are vacated due to WSIB or long-term disability.
  • Also included in the draft document is the development of a new district policing model designed to improve service to urban, suburban and rural areas of the city.
  • New and ongoing investments in strategic priorities that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and human rights, including those activities being rolled out as part of the DRIVE2 Strategy.
  • A new and better coordinated approach to community relations.
  • Continued investment in the OPS data program to provide safety insights to our community.
  • A review of wellness programming to promote the health of our members.
  • Delivery on the commitment of the South Facility Project.
  • Advancement on strategic, operational, and partnered responses to public events and demonstrations.

Budget Financial Highlights (from OPS):

  • The Draft Gross Operating Budget aligns with the Board’s direction and totals $415.5 million.
  • With the deduction of one-time revenue and in consideration of non-taxation revenue and recoveries, the Net Operating Budget for the Service is $372.4 million.
  • This represents an increase of $13.4 million compared to the 2023 Budget.
  • The assessment growth expected in 2024 is 1.5%, with the resulting net increase to the police taxation revenues of 2.5%.
  • This all equates to an approximate $17 increase on the tax bill, which brings the total for policing to $697 for the average urban household.

Efficiencies: (from OPS)

  • The OPS continues to deliver on efficiencies and is a shrinking portion of the overall city budget.
  • In 2019, the OPS Budget was 9.5% of the city budget but is now 8.9.
  • Federal and provincial grants are key to this budget, and we have applied to the province to secure funding for alternative service delivery, bail reform and organized auto theft.
  • In 2024, the OPS will once again undertake an efficiency exercise. The Service has done this for many years and finds, on average, nearly $2M in efficiencies annually.
  • In 2024, the OPS has set an efficiency target of $2.6M. The efficiency target will help to optimize service delivery, and create opportunities for reinvestment for other organizational priorities, including our Staff Stabilization Strategy.

The OPS still wants to hear from local residents and businesses about their thoughts. You’re asked to please consider completing the 2024 Draft Budget questionnaire here.

Also, public delegations and questions from city councillors are welcome at the finance and audit committee meeting starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 via Zoom.

The draft budget will go before council for approval on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023.

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