This November’s Ontario Civilian Police Commission hearing between the London Police Services Board and the City of London will be ruling on more than just funding for new hires.
At Thursday’s London Police Services Board meeting, budget chair Paul Paolatto expressed his uneasiness about not hearing from city administration regarding a payout from the City that would bring local police officers’ salaries in line with their counterparts across the province.
Paolatto said that the two sides agreed to a pay cut for police from 2016 to 2018 that would be rectified with a payment at the end of that term through a market value assessment.
The amount of that payment is calculated to be $3.3-million.
“Rather than hit the taxpayer with a balloon payment heading into 2019, at a time when there’s a new council elected, our thinking was that what we should be doing is at least accruing for the money now, $1.1-million for each of the next three years, so that big lump sum payment doesn’t hit the taxpayer as hard as it might otherwise,” said Paolatto.
The budget chair said that the agreement also included a verbal stipulation that the city take care of accruing the money so long as they provide a “comfort letter” to the board to let them know that the money would be available.
However, the board has yet to receive that assurance.
Now, with police budgets due for next year’s city budget, Paolatto says he doesn’t know whether the board should be saving the money itself or relying on the City, though it’s expected a decision will be made in November.
“If the City can amend the budget in two or three months once we have the hearing outcome, that’s fine,” said Paolatto. “But given that they needed to know the numbers now, we had a responsibility to at least consider including the amounts right now, because we haven’t received the assurance letter from city administration.”
Mayor Matt Brown called it “premature” to be discussing the issue before the OCPC ruling.
“We’re in the midst of a legal process and I think we should just respect that process and allow the discussions to occur where they should occur.”
November’s hearing will also include a request from the London Police Services Board for money that city council chopped from the police budget that would have been used to hire six new officers.
The OCPC hearing goes Nov. 14 at city hall.