VANCOUVER -- Vancouver's police chief is speaking out against the city's newly approved 2021 budget, suggesting the refusal to increase police spending could impact public safety.

“I was disappointed because we're not going to be able to provide the same service levels as 2020,” Chief Const. Adam Palmer told CTV News Vancouver.

The Vancouver Police Board requested a budget of $322 million for 2021, but Palmer said council approved $316 million – the same budget as this year.

Palmer said the dollar amount is the same, but more money was needed to maintain the level of service.

“Because of fixed costs obligations or contractual obligations, cost of living inflation, there's different factors that come into it so that in 2021, you actually need more money to police and provide the same service that you would in 2020,” he explained.

He estimates the consequence of the 2021 budget is they will not be able to recruit an estimated 61 officers. He fears it will bring added stress to those already on the force.

“I'm concerned about the well-being of my officers because if we have officers retiring and we're not able to replace them at the normal attrition rate that we would, it's going to be much harder on frontline officers and their personal well-being,” he said.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart defends the decision on the budget, which he described as a response to the financial challenges posed by COVID-19.

“I think the chief and the board made a very good case for their request for increases. I think just when council looked at it, we just couldn't afford it because of our large revenue losses this year,” Stewart explained.

He said the city lost about $139 million in revenue, adding the best approach was to “hold the line” by providing the same budget to the police.

The mayor said council focused on "prioritizing services for residents and businesses under stress."

“In the middle of COVID I think we did the best we could do,” he said.

Tom Davidoff an assistant professor at the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate agree that the pandemic poses extra challenges for cities.

“It’s challenging because this isn't a great year to go to people to ask for more money. But it's also not a great year to cut spending. So it's not surprising that the police didn't get the increase they received, both given the political environment surrounding policing and the fiscal pressure on the cities,” Davidoff explained.

The budget also includes a five per cent increase to property taxes. Last month, a staff report indicated it would take a 12 per cent tax hike to balance the 2021 budget, but the city instead opted to transfer tens of millions from its reserves to keep the increase down.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alissa Thibault and Andrew Weichel