CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall Police Service (CPS) Chief Shawna Spowart presented her service’s proposed budget for 2022 to the CPS Police Services Board at their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Her budget proposes an increase of four per cent.
A four per cent increase would see the budget rise in real dollars from $20,203,462 in 2021 to $21,017,855 in 2022.
This would be the largest budget increase for the CPS in the past three years, with Spowart explaining that this is attributable to a higher than normal turnover rate in their civillian staff and in a lack of grant funding at the time the budget was being presented.
“There is a significant cost in bringing in new people and training them,” said Spowart.
In 2020 the CPS had 18 civilian members on staff. In 2021, that number has dropped to 14.
Spoward did note that the CPS had received $1.88 million in grant funding since 2015 and hoped to receive more later this year or in early 2022 and if that money comes through the net cost of the budget would drop from a four per cent increase to 3.14 per cent.
“We are seeing an increase in police budgets across the board,” Spowart told Seaway News.
As a part of the budget presentation, Spowart showed that the proposed increase was close to the median of what other police services were asking in their 2022 budgets.
“Obviously, what we want to do is provide consistent high levels of service or community has come to expect while doing it in an efficient way,” Spoward said.
A contributing factor to the budget increase is an increase in calls for service, while the number of CPS staff members on leave has also increased.
Over the past five years, CPS has seen a 23 per cent increase in calls for service, and currently, they have 13 officers who are absent. Six officers are on medical leave through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), one is off with an off-duty injury, five are working modified duty, and one officers is suspended with pay.
“From a city perspective, four per cent is tough to swallow,” said Cornwall Mayor and former Police Board Chair Glen Grant. “But, when you look through the presentation and you see the needs, it makes sense.”
“We are seeing an increase in calls and we are seeing an increase in absences,” said Police Board vice chair Michel Payette. “There is no magic formula to cure this.”
As a part of the budget, Chief Spowart is seeking to hire a data analyst and hopes that this new position can help the CPS find efficiencies in the delivery of their services.
“We want to be finding efficiencies through the use of data analytics so we are using evidence based statistics to optimize our performance,” said Spowart.
Chief Spowart was also confident that the CPS will be able to secure further grant funding to help bring the total net cost of the budget down.
The CPS budget was unanimously approved by the Board and it will now go to Cornwall City Council for final approval.