Transit Police hiking annual budget by 5 per cent
Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:19PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013 7:38PM PDT
The Transit Police Chief is defending a five per cent hike in the force’s budget, blaming two surprise costs for wiping out gains made by cutting his officers’ overtime.
The extra costs – an inflationary hike in a benefit package for officers, and rent at the new TransLink building in New Westminster – are the main drivers behind needing $1.5 million more per year from taxpayers, Chief Neil Dubord told CTV News.
“There were two expenses that came to the forefront that were not covered in 2012,” Dubord said. “We’re going to tighten the budget, try and save some costs in addition to what we saved last year and do our best to cut down.”
The new building is going to cost $900,000 extra in rent for the Transit Police, who did not pay rent in their old building, he said. The move to half a floor in a new development in New Westminster’s brewery district was led by TransLink, which expects the move will save about $2.5 million a year.
The new building is smaller, but it’s closer to other TransLink operations and that’s expected to save time, Dubord said. He said it’s also close to the Sapperton SkyTrain station which helps patrol officers get to SkyTrain quickly.
The other expense is an increase in benefit costs, which was driven by inflation and cost $800,000.
“No extra massages, no extra dental plan, no extra medical plans, it was the same package but it simply cost more.”
Together those costs wiped out gains the force claims to have made by cutting overtime by about $400,000.
“If someone is finishing a shift at 3 a.m. and they have a report to file, if they can do the report the next morning we’ll allow that rather than keeping them until 5 a.m,” Dubord said.
Adding in a $200,000 increase in other inflationary costs and the budget has risen by $1.5 million.
Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the force should have thought twice before agreeing to move into the new building.
“Taxpayers are fully on the hook. Now we’re giving them a shiny new building,” he said, adding that fare gates should reduce the workload on the officers, and the cost.
“Quit spending money on shiny new buildings and put it on front line services,” Bateman said.
TransLink Mayors' Council chair Richard Walton said the fare gates wouldn’t change the need for Transit Police.
“I’m familiar with the fare gate system in London, England, and I’ve routinely seen people vaulting over barriers. You may need police presence with the gates,” he said.