Saturday, April 6, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – April 6, 2013

Council rejects police budget request

City councillors have taken the unprecedented step of refusing a request from police for a budget increase — a high-stakes move that could lead to binding arbitration.

At Wednesday’s general issues committee meeting, councillors voted 11 to four in favour of capping the budget at 3.52 per cent. – Police Chief Glenn De Caire had requested a 3.71-per-cent increase.

As councillors have repeatedly pointed out over the past several weeks, it’s extremely unusual for Hamilton’s governing body to push back against the police. Wednesday marks the first time in recent memory that council has refused to grant the force’s full request.

Now, it’s up to the police services board to determine whether to adopt the 3.52-per-cent increase or send it to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission for arbitration. That decision would be final and the city would have to pay whatever the OCPC deemed appropriate.

Four councillors voted against capping the budget, with Mayor Bob Bratina expressing unabashed support for the police request. The other three — Judi Partridge, Brenda Johnson and Brad Clark — voted against the move because they believed the budget should be frozen or, in Clark’s case, because council needed more information.

Despite facing criticism from his council colleagues for being a “rubber stamp,” Bratina continued to demonstrate the unrelenting support he has shown for De Caire since the beginning of the budget request.

“If we’re so desperate for dollars, we could have made other adjustments to the way we spend money,” Bratina said. “I’m not sure why we don’t believe and trust in the police chief.” (Source; Hamilton Spectatior)