City Council has decided to take it’s chances before the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, after rejecting a compromise that would have brought an end to the drawn-out budget battle with Police.
The London Police Services Board had hoped to recoup some of the funding that was cut from their multi-year-budget request, while preventing a legal dispute that will be the first-of-it’s-kind for London.
Police appealed to the Commission after being denied $4 million in funding during multi-year budget talks. The Board had hoped to resolve the dispute Monday night by offering a compromise: City Hall provide $1.8 million over the next 3 years, while Police use department savings for the remaining $2.2 million.
“We will hire the resources now and we will be responsible for any shortfall associated with those resources,” said London Police Services Board Chair Paul Paolatto. “We have some reserves, it’s not a lot, we’re not really excited about using those reserves but we are prepared to apply those reserves to the hiring of those resources now, provided that we have some assurances that the continuity costs associated with these resources can be recovered over the next three years.”
During spring’s budget talks, the City chopped $4 million out of the four-year funding request from the London Police Services Board, meaning the service could hire seven new officers instead of the 13 it wanted.
Paolatto had hoped the two sides could prevent a face off in front of the Commission.
“This is, I think, a very fair proposal,” he said. “We’re meeting you half-way, [and] we’ve got some innovative pieces in here that we think would be constructive going forward.”
He also made it clear in the presentation to Council that this was their final offer.
“We’ve had some further consideration conversations as a board negotiating team, and we want to make sure that people appreciate that mediation, private mediation, is no longer on the table,” Paolatto said. “We do not have time, and we have no interest in proceeding in that direction. We’re at stage right now where we have to make a decision.”
Council voted unanimously to turn down the proposal after spending 90 minutes behind closed doors.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission hearings will begin this November, and are expected to last for at least one week.
The estimated cost of the hearings is not known.
It’s believed the London Police Services Board is the first police department in Ontario to launch the OCPC application since a successful Guelph police appeal in 1999.