The Oak Bay Police department has downsized by removing two detective positions.
Instead, the work has been contracted out to Saanich Police Department.
“[Our] new agreement with Saanich has significantly higher costs,” said Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties. “To address those costs without seeking new funds, we have reduced our organization by two police officers.”
The two positions are detectives and the new agreement with Saanich police will cover off the work, Bernoties said.
As the new chief constable, Bernoties presented this as part of the 2021 proposed police budget to Oak Bay council on Monday. Council voted to approve the budget.
The Saanich Service Agreement will increase by $276,400 to $409,247 for 2021. This is offset by about $311,400 in savings from the salaries, which was done through attrition of officers retiring or leaving.
“There will be absolutely no reduction in service as these positions are, and have been, vacant for some time,” he said. The officer reduction will actually lower some of Oak Bay police’s costs. It brings the number of officers down from 23 to 21.
“Our cost stays static regardless of usage,” Bernoties said. “There is a caveat in the unlikely event we go over (and we have a reserve for that), but otherwise the cost will be the cost with an annual inflation lift only.”
In total, the overall budget is projected to increase by 2.7 per cent from $5,265,000 to $5,408,400.
Oak Bay police has also been saving money by using the RCMP K9 service at a cost of $36,000 per year instead of joining the Saanich and Victoria police integrated dog service, which is a cost of about $93,000 per year.
Oak Bay Police only calls for a K9 officer about four times a year, for about two hours at a time, said Bernoties in the draft budget.
“This has worked very well operationally with timely response and professional service,” the chief said.
Oak Bay police’s budget includes a $25,000 increase to overtime, a $28,500 increase to EComm for dispatch services up to $297,570 in 2021, a 7,300 increase to PRIME and other software costs, and an $8,000 increase to integrated team costs.