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Winnipeg Police Service coming in $12.9M under-budget, new report forecasts

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) says revenue is down from traffic tickets and ticket volume is also down from photo radar, but it is not hurting the bottom line too much.

In fact, the WPS is forecasting it will be under budget by millions of dollars. According to its 2023 fiscal budget update, the service is forecasting it will be under-budget by $12.9 million for the fiscal period ending Dec. 31, 2023.

The chair of the Winnipeg Police Board Coun. Markus Chambers tells CTV News that, unlike the first budget, an actuarial analyst looked at the pension plan for the service. Based on that evaluation, they’re not having to spend as much money as expected to keep the pension solvent.

In addition, the province increased the basket funding for police by $5.2 million.

Chambers said this is good news, but warns it won’t take much to eat into these savings.

“There are inflationary pressures: equipment, cost of materials, costs of fuel, cost of the accommodations,” he said. “So we have to be reasonably cautious in terms of these savings that they can all go away in 2024.”

Chambers warns that continuing protests or unexpected events could also eat into the budget.

PHOTO ENFORCEMENT, TICKET REVENUES DOWN

The revenue generated by photo enforcement is forecasted to be below budget by $3 million, according to the report.

“If the declining revenues is a result of better driving habits of Winnipeggers, I’m all for that,” Chambers said. “If it’s a situation though that drivers know where the photo radar is located and they’re adjusting their driving habits as a result, but their driving habits overall have not changed – that is concerning.”

The report said the volume of tickets was impacted by the absence of enforceable construction zones and what it described as obsolete photo enforcement equipment.

The police board has been lobbying the new NDP government for a review of the photo radar system. Chambers said he hopes this could be addressed in a review to make the photo radar program more efficient.

VIOLENT CRIME, HOMICIDES, MAJOR CRITICAL INCIDENTS HAVING AN IMPACT

Violent crime is also impacting the city’s budget. The report says overtime costs are up due to the number of homicides, major critical incidents and overall increases in violent crime.

The report said dangerous emergency events were up 26 per cent in 2021, increasing by 18 per cent in 2022. That trend has continued in 2023.

“These emergency events are a major driver of workload and put a tremendous strain on resources and members,” the report reads, adding the service relies on overtime to address the increase in calls.

The full financial report will be presented this Friday at the finance committee meeting

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