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City budgets for major increases in police and fire staff

Don Fennell   Jan-18-2019


Responding to continued growth projections, Richmond is adding more than 100 police and fire personnel over the next three years.

The additional staff are part of city council’s Safe Community Program and is based on the recommendations from Richmond RCMP and Richmond Fire-Rescue to ensure adequate staffing.

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Fifty-one additional RCMP officers and 20 municipal employees will be hired at the Richmond RCMP detachment to address community safety staffing needs. There are currently some 200 police officers.

Based on population, Richmond has fewer police officers than surrounding communities, with a ratio of one officer for every 970 people. According to the municipal police statistics for 2015, Richmond has the lowest RCMP cost per capita compared to its peer group. RCMP has devised a three-year resource plan to take into account the current and future police resource challenges and demands.

The recent Richmond Fire-Rescue update identified that due to forecasted community growth over the next decade, a rescue company consisting of 12 firefighters will be required in the Steveston-Seafair area and an engine company consisting of 24 firefighters will be required in the city centre area in order to maintain current levels of service. The additional firefighters will also be hired over the next three years.

To address community safety staffing needs, the 2019 budget and five-year financial plan (2019-2023) provide for the increased personnel.

Richmond’s finance committee, which includes all members of Richmond City Council, voted to support the proposed police and fire staffing increases at a special committee meeting Jan. 14. However, the 2019 operating budget still requires approval from council. The 2019 operating and capital budgets were both referred back to staff with requests for more information on a variety of proposed spending initiatives. It is anticipated the proposed budgets will come back to committee for further consideration in early February.

The overall proposed tax increase for 2019 was 5.33 per cent, with 55 per cent attributed to fire and police, however this number is anticipated to change as council further reviews and adjusts the budget.

The proposed budget also includes nearly $3 million in additional spending required to cover costs passed on by senior levels of government, including the new provincial employer health tax. This is equivalent to a 1.38 per cent tax increase and accounts for 26 per cent of the overall recommended tax increase.

In addition to the proposed 2019 operating budget, the city’s 2019 capital budget, 2019 operating and capital budgets for Richmond Public Library, the city’s recommended one-time spending expenditures and the consolidated five-year financial plan (2019-2023) were presented to finance committee last Monday. All the reports are available for public viewing at city's website.

Public consultation on the consolidated five-year financial plan (2019-2023), which includes all of the city’s 2019 budgets, will be undertaken prior to the final consideration and adoption of the plan and 2019 budgets by council.


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