Saint John council orders police commission to trim more than $1M from budget
SAINT JOHN -- The Saint John Police Force is facing budget cuts as the port city faces a multimillion-dollar deficit.
Common council has formally directed the police commission to make cuts to the tune of more than $1 million this year.
"Those are not easy decisions, but 60 per cent of our costs, $90 million of $162 million budgets, are related to our people costs," said Saint John Mayor Don Darling.
At its latest meeting, council approved sending a letter ordering $1.17 million in workforce-related cost adjustments.
The letter sent to the Saint John Police Commission says the expectation is that the necessary changes will be made this year, so that the savings can be realized in time for the 2021 budget.
It goes on to say the commission can find the money through "wage freezes, natural attrition, severance payments, possible voluntary departure incentives, efficiency initiatives, the civilianization of certain police services -- and service reductions."
"If it is a service cut, if we do have less people, you know we do have a minimum staffing number that we have to meet, and it's going to drive overtime up," said Duane Squires, the Saint John Police Association president. "Our members are really burnt, when it comes to working the amount of overtime."
This conversation comes as the city works to deal with a looming $10 million annual deficit for 2021 and 2022.
In December, council agreed that 50 per cent of that deficit would be addressed through workforce and personnel changes.
"We cannot run a deficit," Darling said. "And we have this year to go from $10 million behind to balanced books."
The police budget cuts are just the beginning of the fiscal challenge facing the city.