Ottawa’s police: we pay the bills, shouldn’t we set the budget?

Apparently property taxes are going up by about $96 per house next year. In general, I don't have a problem with tax hikes. I think taxes make a lot of sense. But in this case I'm willing to make an exception. Why? Because of that whole taxation without representation thing.

The single biggest spending increase in the City of Ottawa’s budget this year is a ten per cent increase going to the police.

So how come the cops get a ten per cent increase when everything else is cut back, or only partially reinstated from last year’s debacle?

Because Ottawa city council actually doesn’t set the police budget. They just pay the bills. There’s this other board, which doesn’t even answer to the city, that sets the budget.

Council passed a motion asking the police services board to consider keeping their budget increase to three per cent next year.

Ottawa police chief Vince Bevan (who does sit on the board) has already said he doubts the board will heed their request.

Lovely. What makes the police so special that they can spend however they want and stick someone else (namely us) with the bill?

What other public service, be it federal, provincial or municipal could ever have that kind of latitude to extract money from a body to which they were ultimately unaccountable.

We should have a city council that can say, “no, we don’t need more police, we’d rather bring back plastic recycling.”