After sending the budget back to the Moose Jaw Board of Police Commissioners, Moose Jaw City Council approved the Moose Jaw Police Service's revised operating budget for 2023.
The revised net budget is for $11.5 million, which is an increase of $341,000 for 2022 and equates to a 1.02 per cent mill rate increase. The initial budget presented to city council was for a net budget of $11.8 million or the equivalent of a 1.84 per cent mill rate increase.
The police were able to reduce its expenditures by $51,511 and increase revenue by $220,000 for a net budget of about $11.5 million.
The police budget was sent back to the board to look at vacant police officer positions as well as the use of the traffic safety reserve. The traffic safety reserve is revenues from automated speed enforcement.
The police service found savings after learning that it would only receive two spots in January for new recruits to go to the Saskatchewan Police College instead of the three that had been budgeted for. The cost to send a recruit to police college in January is about $70,000 per recruit. Meanwhile, the police service learned that it will likely receive two seats in July instead of the one that was budgeted. The savings of moving a recruit from starting in January to July was $51,511.
The police also reviewed the Traffic Safety Reserve and requested $330,000 from the reserve. Each year, the police service requests about $110,000 to fund an officer dedicated to traffic safety initiatives. The additional $220,000 would allow for two more traffic safety officers and a fourth traffic safety officer will be funded through the police's operating budget. These would not be new officers, but existing officers on the force.
During his presentation to city council, Chief Rick Bourassa said this would be a one-time ask for 2023 only.
City manager Jim Puffalt said something similar to this has been tried in other communities he's worked in with great success.
"When we did this in North Battleford, and that was a community safety officer program so it is quite a bit different, but we were able to generate some substantial revenue from fines," he said.
Bourassa did note that, as a police service, they look at safety and reducing harm by adding traffic safety officers and not at the revenue it could generate as it would compromise the independence of policing.