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Brantford Police Service facing $1.74 million deficit

City of BrantfordBrantford Police Service facing $1.74 million deficit

City of Brantford council officially requested the presence of Robert Davis, Brantford Police Chief, to attend the next finance meeting in order to address the department’s 2023 $1.74 million deficit during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2023.

At a finance meeting on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, Finance Committee members received a report notifying them of the Brantford Police Department’s projected $1.74 million deficit for the year 2023.

The report noted that the deficit includes expenses such as full-time and part-time wages, benefits and overtime hours.

Among other various expenses throughout the report, meal expenses were over budget by $111,000, armour supply expenses were over by $149,000, equipment expenses were over budget by $215,000, and vehicle repair and maintenance expenses were over by $73,000.

During the finance meeting, it was discussed that if need be, the department’s $1.74 million deficit would be covered from the City’s Corporate Contingency Reserve.

At the November 28 Council meeting, members of council were voting to defer the report “2023 Variance Update to Include the Brantford Police Service,” and the decision to use the Corporate Contingency Reserve, by one meeting cycle.

Before the vote to defer, Councillor Dan McCreary introduced an amendment.

“[During the finance meeting] we had the presence of the Police Chief and his Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to explain significant variances with respect to their 2023 budget. It was most unsatisfactory in terms of being able to receive answers to some of the questions. Police staff were either unable or unwilling to answer the questions posed,” said McCreary as he spoke to the amendment. “There were some things that one should have expected them to be cognizant of the answers; For instance, the number of officers who left their employee in 2023, the total amount that they’ve expended on legal fees in 2023, and accounting of why the vehicle lease account was over by $65,000, as well as whether or not there was a corresponding decrease in the capital purchase of vehicles, which was given us the reason for the excess leases.”

He also noted the surprise need of $250,000 worth of new handguns, and that Chief Davis could not answer whether or not they were compensated for sending police constables to Ottawa in 2022, or if all the new administrator hires were on board yet.

“These were questions that were posed, and unable to be answered,” said McCreary.

Councillor Linda Hunt said she had attended the November 15 meeting, and that she was uncomfortable at the end of it.

“City Council does not have the authority to direct staff of the Brantford City Police, that is the responsibility of the Police Services Board,” she said.

Joelle Daniels, Commissioner of Corporate Services confirmed to Hunt that she was correct.

“I believe you’re correct,” she said. “We cannot give directions to staff of police services. What can happen is a request of the board to send a representative, whether that’s a member of the board or a member of a police service, to attend but that direction can’t come from staff to staff.”

Councillor Greg Martin, who Chairs the Finance Committee also spoke to the issue.

“I don’t think this whole thing was handled properly. It should have gone through the Police Services Board. But unfortunately, the request went straight to the Chief as an opportunity to come speak to it and he wasn’t expecting the level of questioning that he received at the Finance Committee,” said Martin. “It has now gone to the Police Services Board, and we’ve put it on the agenda for a meeting next week, so it’s something that will be discussed.”

McCreary then moved his amendment to officially request Chief Davis’ presence at the next Finance meeting.

“City Council respectfully requests that the Brantford Police Services Board give direction to Police Chief Davis to require his attendance at the December Finance Committee, fully prepared to answer any and all inquiries regarding 2022 and 2023 budgets and expenditure,” said the amendment. “And that written responses to outstanding November Finance Committee questions and undertakings ,be provided to the city clerk well in advance of December Finance Committee.”

Councillor Gino Caputo noted that while Chief Davis and Tareq El-Ahmed, CFO of Brantford Police Services, were unprepared, Chief Davis is already expected to attend the December finance meeting with the answers to the questions, but would support the amendment.

McCreary then clarified his reasoning for the amendment.

“The Police Chief requested this,” he said. “I believe the request came because he would either be unable or unwilling, and it was vague as to which of those he meant, to appear before us without this amendment from Council giving direction to the board for him to appear.”

The amendment was carried 7-2 with Councillors Hunt and Mandy Samwell voting against, and the deferral as amended was carried with a vote of 8-1 noting that Hunt voted against it.

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