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Port Moody Police will have to crunch its numbers

Port Moody Police Department will have to trim its budget by just under $155,000 but it's up to the cops where those cuts happen.

Port Moody Police Department will have to trim its budget by just under $155,000 but it's up to the cops where those cuts happen.

The motion to cut the PMPD budget for 2013 was made at Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting, at which council members sorted through discrepancies in the city's and police department's budget numbers.

Last month, council approved a motion to require $200,000 in cuts, which would have meant losing a new police recruit position that had already been deferred from the 2012 budget.

The PMPD later reported it was able to make $103,000 in cuts - but it turns out those were from the capital budget and would not have made any difference to the proposed tax increase facing PoMo homeowners, currently at about 5.8% (when blended with utility cost hikes, the rate increase is closer to 3.8%).

The committee of the whole on Tuesday approved a motion to require $154,800 in cuts, leaving it up to the police department to decide where those should come from, but Mayor Mike Clay said the police have nowhere else to cut but staff.

Coun. Zoe Royer, however, suggested the PMPD could take advantage of the city's finance, human resources and IT staff to save money. She said each year, the city is presented with a police budget showing "exponential increases" and while she values the "awesome service, it takes away from everything else in the city."

Coun. Gerry Nuttall noted Port Moody has the lowest per capita cost of policing compared to other Metro Vancouver cities with municipal forces and boasts the lowest crime rate but the PMPD is also eating up the biggest share of the city's overall budget.

"Since 2008, the number of officers has increased by about 10%, but the amount of police spending has increased by 57%," Nuttall said Wednesday. "What it shows you is that most of the money... is going towards paying current members to do what they're currently doing, not to increase the level of policing.

"If that trend continues, what I worry about is we're going to start losing a lot of other services."

Clay said the $154,800 in cuts ultimately represent two PMPD positions: the new recruit and a vacant job.

"The new recruit would have been an increase in staffing, that won't happen," Clay said. "And if the vacancy isn't filled, that could be a decrease. That's what the police department and the [police] board will have to look at - what are the priorities for policing?"

Council must approve the budget by May 15.

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