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Tensions high at Winnipeg City Hall discussing police budget

Winnipeg City Hall

After much debate and some fireworks, City Hall’s finance committee has approved an over-expenditure for the Winnipeg Police Service for 2021.

“It played out a little unusual today,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth. The committee voted three to one in favour of the city’s general revenues covering off a shortfall up to $7.3 million, due mainly to increased pension costs.

The police service says it can’t take that kind of hit to the budget.

“It’s just not feasible without drastic reduction to police services,” said Finance Committee Chair Scott Gillingham.

Last month the committee asked the service to come back with other savings options before voting on the ask.

The Winnipeg Police Board reported back that no viable alternatives exist.

That irked some committee councillors who said they wanted the options presented anyway, even if they’re not doable.

“Am I missing something here?” questioned Coun. John Orlikow, “Like why is that so hard to inform the committee?”

Smyth told them the only options would be a two-week furlough of the service or cuts.

Smyth says cuts are not workable because of notice stipulations in collective agreements.

He saw no point in bringing those forward.

“Clearly, some of them made it clear otherwise that they would like to hear the non-viable one,” said Smyth, “In my view that’s not productive but it might be helpful at a political level.”

That still didn’t sway Coun. Sherri Rollins, the lone vote against.

“I asked for the Winnipeg Police Service to come back with options and alternatives and they did not, and so that doesn’t garner a vote for me,” said Rollins.

She also took issue with the fact the police board was answering budget questions at times on behalf of the service.

“If Councillor Rollins wants to find out what’s going on, she’s more than welcome to attend a public meeting of the Winnipeg Police Board and find out information with respect to the budget,” said Winnipeg Police Board Chair Markus Chambers.

The committee unanimously approved a $3.4 million over-expenditure for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service related to overtime.

It brought forward $803,000 in savings options it recommended against. Top Stories

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