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North Bay police board approves 2023 budget, includes a 10% increase

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The North Bay Police Service’s Board approved the police department’s 2023 budget, including a 10 per cent increase compared to last year.

The budget was unanimously approved Tuesday morning. The total budget is slated at just under $24.5 million, a 10.78 per cent increase compared with the 2022 budget of $22.5 million.

The increase is largely driven by the cost of hiring new staff.

"We recognize there is a cost to policing. We are seeing larger numbers than what we've seen in the past,” said Deputy Police Chief Michael Daze.

“That's recognizing the demands we are seeing from communities."

Personnel costs -- including salary, benefits and overtime -- account for more than 93 per cent of the budget. Nine officers have been hired and the police are planning to hire five more officers this year.

"That is wages,” said North Bay Mayor and police board member Peter Chirico.

“Let's remember that those are reinvested back in our city. Those are wages that are paid to officers who live in our city and spend that money in our city.”

A 2021 survey of residents of North Bay conducted by Oraclepoll Research found that 75 per cent of residents believed the North Bay Police Service “need more officers.”

“Do we look to try and mitigate as much as we can? We do,” said Daze.

“At the same time, we have to be responsive to the community and we have to be responsive to what the taxpayers are asking for.”

In total, 83 per cent of respondents said they support police using body-worn cameras when responding to service calls.

"There will be some consultations and town halls with public feedback about those body-worn (cameras) and we're developing now what that software will be on the back end,” said Daze.

The body camera pilot project is set to be unrolled in the coming months.

“It's an investment in our community and the safety of our community. We've heard time and time again about the perception of safety,” said Chirico.

Inflation also had an impact on the budget, including a 70 per cent increase in fuel costs, a 56 per cent increase in software costs and a 96 per cent increase in natural gas costs since 2022.

Goods and services costs amount for most of the remaining portion of the budget. About 8.5 per cent of the police budget is offset by funding from the federal and provincial governments.

It's anticipated the police budget will account for about 16 per cent of the city's total expenses this year. 

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