Friday, September 24, 1999

John Duncanson

p. B4.

Budget crunch raises chief's ire

Police can't find savings requested by board, Boothby says

Frustrated by repeated calls from city hall to cut his budget, Chief David Boothby lashed out yesterday, saying he wasn't going to be anyone's whipping boy.

"If we were in private industry … we'd all be getting bonuses, not bumps," Boothby told the police services board as it grappled with yet another budget crisis that has left the force $9.2 million in the red this year.

Boothby said he simply couldn't find the savings and told the board the city has been well aware that the force wouldn't be able to meet a budget target of $522.9 million.

"I'm not going to be a whipping boy for anyone," a defiant-sounding Boothby said.

He said the force originally asked for $533.2 million for policing this year, but city hall provided $11 million less than requested.

Boothby got into a bit of a sparring match with city councillor Olivia Chow, who suggested that with recent hirings and new cars, the force could surely find some savings in overtime, court time and maintenance costs.

"Councillor Chow was talking about if you have more people, that would reduce court costs. That's naive and that's not part of this business," the chief said.

'If we were in private industry, we'd all be getting bonuses, not bumps… I'm not going to be a whipping boy for anyone.'
— Police Chief David Boothby

Boothby's contention that the force could not find any more savings to satisfy the city's budget demands was supported by board chair Norm Gardner. He said the force has a legal obligation to deliver services, and cuts could endanger lives.

"We can't cut and I don't think it's safe to cut," Gardner said, adding he's been told surveillance teams have been pulled off suspects in some cases because money for overtime wasn't available.

He suggested Mayor Mel Lastman consider a 1 per cent tax increase, even though he's already promised Torontonians they would not be hit with higher taxes to pay for services such as police.

"If I'm going to take the heat and say we need a tax raise, then fine," Gardner said.

But board members and lawyer Jeff Lyons reminded Gardner that a tax increase was simply not going to happen and the force had better start looking for ways to solve its budget woes.

In the end, the board supported several motions put forward by Chow, including an order that the force produce a line-by-line accounting of expenditures to date.

Chow said it would go a long way toward helping police explain exactly what they have spent so far this year.

Salary upgrades due to reclassification of constables cost $5.8 million — money the force had requested but was denied. Unexpected resignations amounted to $800,000.

One of the cost overruns that the force could not foresee was the policing of demonstrations held outside the U.S. consulate protesting NATO's bombing of Serbia. That cost the force $1.3 million.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710