Putting our money where it counts
Prince George is known for a number of things some good, some not so good.
While those who have visited P.G. recognize the awesome hospitality, high level of volunteerism, and beautiful setting, those who have never been here think of bad air quality and ( thanks to Maclean’s magazine) a high crime rate.
The City wants to launch a campaign to bring more students here, to make P.G. an education destination. There will need to be some repairs to the City’s image if that venture is to succeed.
We already know industry has made some major gains when it comes to improving air quality, efforts that can be thwarted when Mother Nature delivers the kind of weather conditions experienced over the past week. But when it comes to crime, well, that hits the bank account of each and every property owner in Prince George. Policing costs money, and taxpayers foot the bill.
So the City is being asked to bump up the contracted numbers of officers for the Prince George detachment, and increase the budget to bring on three more officers next year and two more in each of the following two years. The phased in approach would be complete about the time the current Council’s mandate comes to a close.
It’s all about dollars and cents. The cost of three officers for one full year is about $481 thousand dollars. That is of course, if all three were to land in Prince George January 1st of 2016. That’s not likely to happen.
A report to Council’s budget deliberations today indicates it would not be likely for all three to be here until sometime around September, so the cost for 2016 would be more in the $160 thousand dollar range. It is also estimated their arrival would reduce overtime costs by about $50 thousand for the four months. So the bottom line for 2016 would end up being an added ( approximately) $110 thousand.
Is it possible to find savings within the existing City budget to cover the requested police enhancement?
The City has been saying it will save $500 thousand dollars by dismantling IPG and bringing it ‘in house’. Apparently those ‘savings’ have been transferred to the Capital side of the budget. There are also the dollars the City will now use to fund the voluntary water meter program, making 100 water meters available for no charge so more residences can move to consumption rates. The cost? $63 thousand dollars. Then there’s the Community Celebration grant program ($30 thousand a year) .
Police protection is a core service in Prince George and the detachment should be given the resources to do the job we expect them to do.
The money can be found, if there is a will to make crime reduction a priority.
The question is, what price do you put on your personal safety? On the safety of your family?