The police board receives financial updates for the first time since January

The Moose Jaw Police Service provided a financial update to the police board for the first time in months, a sign that city hall’s new financial software program is properly operating.

The Moose Jaw Police Service provided a financial update to the police board for the first time in months, a sign that city hall’s new financial software program is properly operating.

The organization (MJPS) had not provided the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) with a monthly financial update since January because the city hall had experienced problems implementing its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

While the police service has a finance officer, the municipality’s finance department provides third-party accounting services to the organization.

The MJPS budgeted $1,784,000 in revenues and $13,284,895 in expenses this year, leaving an overall net expense of $11,509,548. City council agreed to fund this amount during its 2023 budget discussions.

from Jan. 1 to March 31, the MJPS saw revenues of $383,188 and expenses of $3,826,896, leaving an overall net expense of $3,468,297, according to a BOPC report. This is roughly 30 per cent of the overall budget.

Of note, the subscriptions and publications expense category was $5,296 over budget, the insurance category was $2,372 over budget and supplies were over budget by $2,645.

“It’s difficult for us to forecast right now because so many revenues (like provincial funding and contractual revenues) come in big chunks, so we’re never quite sure what time of the year they’re going to show up,” said Police Chief Rick Bourassa during the recent BOPC meeting.

“A lot of the salary and benefits pieces are front-loaded because of CPP and employment insurance and those kinds of things that are paid upfront.”

So far there are no major budget variances, while the organization should finish the year in good shape, he added.

Commissioner Doug Blanc asked about whether the budget included provincial funding from the automated speed enforcement cameras and the current accumulated surplus.

Bourassa replied that the MJPS would receive $330,000 in camera revenue, which would come later this year.

Meanwhile, the total accumulated surplus at the end of 2022 was $395,135.69. This included last year’s surplus of $229,202.20, the 2021 carry-forward surplus of $170,275.01 and $4,341.52 in losses from investments.

“We have to bear in mind (that) that a surplus exists because we and the board made a decision to put contingency away for salary increases (and) for bargaining increases,” Bourassa said. “And then that goes into the surplus. Once the agreement is complete, then it comes out as backpay… .

“Ideally, we should be at zero all the time, but that surplus allows us to smooth things out during collective bargaining (agreement, CBA) periods.”

During the recent CBA negotiations, the BOPC agreed to retroactive pay increases of 1.8 per cent for 2021, 1.95 per cent for last year and 2.9 per cent for this year.

An investigation by the Independent MJst revealed the MJPS had an accumulated surplus of $1,137,301.03 in 2013, while it drew down $742,165.34 during those 10 years. Moreover, the organization experienced four deficits and six surpluses during that time.

The highest surplus was $229,202.20 last year, the investigation found, while the largest deficit was $697,738.51 in 2019.

When asked why supplies were over budget, finance officer Lisa Renwick replied that they weren’t. Instead, the organization has had difficulty knowing where to put some expenses because of the new software system. Moreover, the city hall has suggested that the MJPS put some expenses in other areas.

“So it’s kind of a learning curve this year,” she said, noting the organization can adjust the budget later so it learns how to produce reports. “There has been a lot of equipment purchased (for the tactical unit) because we’ve spent the ($70,000 in) civil forfeiture money we’ve received.”

The next Board of Police Commissioners meeting is Thursday, June 8, at 7 pm in the Moose Jaw Public Library’s south meeting room. The public is welcome to attend.

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