Kitchener mayor, former chair of police services board propose reallocating leftover police budget

By Germain Ma

It's feeling a bit like a scramble to the finish line to finally make a decision about one contentious topic in our region. 

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Tom Galloway, a regional councillor and former chair of the regional police services board both tweeted police proposals on Sunday, which include plans to make upstream investments.

This comes after regional police reduced their ask for next year's budget by around $2 million, looking now for around $10.4 million.

In a tweet, Mayor Vrbanovic said, “We've heard from many–from those looking to re-allocate police budgets to those concerned about crime & wanting addition $'s. A safer community for all requires sustainable upstream investments.”

He suggested the region use the budget space leftover from the reduced police ask towards upstream investments starting next year, and over the next 10 years.

But, one Twitter user responded that the mayor is creating a false distinction between people looking to reallocate and people concerned about crime.

The user said, “Council heard from those that believe throwing more $$ at WRPS is a mistake… and no one else.”

Tom Galloway, a regional councillor and former chair of the police services board also proposed funding upstream initiatives.

He called the new proposed police budget “unsustainable” and asked that council reject it because it pushes costs into 2023. 

Galloway's proposal includes setting up a $500,000 Transition Fund, which would be funded on a one time basis, as well as a $1.5 million upstream Initiatives Fund. 

But, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Waterloo Region District School Board, Teneile Warren questioned how council could make these plans.

They tweeted, “Council has said it doesn’t control the police budget how can they reallocate it? So, what is the “fact”?”

Warren proposed that Reallocate WR be offered a full regional council meeting like the police to present an alternative budget. 

Reallocate WR also chimed in on the budget talks Monday morning. 

In a series of Twitter posts, it suggested that Galloway “dream a bit bigger” in his initial investment proposal and asked that initiatives be police-free.

Regional police was looking to hire 35 new full-time positions, but now has plans to save money largely by adjusting these hiring dates.

It also expects to transfer funds from its general reserve. 

Last week, around half of delegations in the public input session urged council not to increase next year's police funding.

Final budget approval is set for December 15. 

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