The Police Services Act and the Winnipeg Police Board By-law require the Winnipeg Police Board to provide Winnipeg City Council with an annual estimate of the cost of providing police services for the next fiscal year. Council uses this estimate to determine the total dollar amount of the Winnipeg Police Service’s operating and capital budgets for the next year. The Board allocates the funds across different departments and projects of the Winnipeg Police Service. The Board holds the Chief of Police accountable for the Winnipeg Police Service’s budget performance.
Understanding Policing Costs
The Board is required to provide Council with estimates of what it will cost to provide adequate and effective police services in Winnipeg. To determine exactly what that cost is, the Board works very closely with the Winnipeg Police Service and uses the strategic plan as a guide. The Board also considers public input and information from Council and the City of Winnipeg. The Board factors salary and benefit commitments from collective bargaining agreements, as well as recent data about police workloads, crime rates, technology and equipment needs, and current issues in community safety and crime. Every year, the Board publishes a report that describes the environment for policing in Winnipeg and the factors that influence policing costs.
The Budget Development Process
The Board times its work on the Winnipeg Police Service budget to fit with the schedule and process used by the City of Winnipeg to develop the annual City budget. The Board’s role in this process involves the following steps:
- The Board receives a budget call letter from the City of Winnipeg that signals the start of the budget development process
- The Board consults with the Service and considers its advice for what expenditures to anticipate for the coming year
- The Board consults with the Service with respect to additional information City Council requires to assess the financial requirements of the Service, such as revenue projections and the implications of expenditure reduction options
- The Board accepts the Service’s advice or gives direction to revise its estimates before submitting the estimates to the City of Winnipeg for analysis
- The Board and the Service meet with City staff to discuss the preliminary budget estimates and the City’s analysis of them
- The Board consults further with the Service
- The Board makes a recommended budget estimate to Council, stating how much the Board has determined it will cost to provide adequate and effective police services for the next year
- Council considers the Board’s estimate, budget constraints and other factors, then decides the total amount of the Winnipeg Police Service’s budget for the next year
- The Board decides how the Service’s annual budget will be allocated in consultation with the Service