Two Hamilton Police Cruiser cars on a street.
Two Hamilton Police cruisers in August 2017 Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

Hamilton’s Police Service is projecting a $1.6-million fiscal surplus for 2020, which the HPS attributes to significantly lower than average retirements, decreased training due to COVID physical distancing requirements, and decreased use of fuel, utilities, and supplies.

HPS budget surpluses were subject of a recent debate at Hamilton City Council. Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann moved to have the surpluses returned to City Hall and placed into reserve to be spent on community services and housing. The motion failed 2-11.

The current policy is that HPS surpluses are placed into a reserve account maintained by the Police Board to cover future years with potential deficits. In practice, the reserve account grows in size and is drawn from for police capital projects such as the recently constructed Investigation Services Building in Downtown Hamilton and the planned future police station in Waterdown.

Factors Resulting in 2020 Surplus

  • $500,000 for sick bank payouts

Only 25 Hamilton Police members retired in 2020, “less than half of the previous two years”. The result is the HPS spend $500,000 less in sick bank payout than forecast. This portion of the surplus should be placed into the sick bank reserve. HPS has a sick bank liability of approximately $24-million with $6.7-million in the sick bank reserve.

  • $450,000 in the training budget

“As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, annual training and conferences were postponed or cancelled. While the Service was hopeful to conduct some of its training in the fourth quarter, COVID-19 lockdowns did not allow for this to occur”.

  • $300,000 in lower fuel costs.

The price of fuel was lower than forecast in 2020.

  • $350,000 in lower than expected utility costs

“Mostly attributed to the delay in opening the new Investigative Services Building”

  • $300,000 in employee gapping savings.

HPS did not fill many civilian vacancies during the first months of COVID

  • $460,000 materials, supplies, and contractual services.

The HPS’s spending in these areas were decreased due to COVID.

  • $370,000 legal, hearings, and arbitrations

HPS is spending more on legal expenses than forecast

  • $440,000 lost revenue to decrease in number of police clearances being conducted.