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Miguel Avila Deputation to t.p.s Board April 07 2011

Miguel Avila Deputation to t.p.s Board April 07 2011

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Deputation to Toronto Police Services Board. item 1 Presentation of Auditor General
Deputation to Toronto Police Services Board. item 1 Presentation of Auditor General

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Published by: Miguel Avila-Velarde on Apr 07, 2011
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04/07/2011

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Deputation to Toronto Police Services Board

My name is Miguel Avila, a proud Latino Canadian and resident of Toronto. This past January I appeared at this board to request a reduction on the ballooning Toronto Police Budget , I believe at the time we were not “in the hole yet” as kindly put by the City’s Budget Chief Mr. Del Grande, Today the report of the Auditor General calls for a reduction of Police Officers at construction sites the current shift pays officers $65 dollars per hour for an off duty officer. The Auditor’s recommendations result in savings to the T.P.S, that translates in $2 million dollars, that is a drop of a coin in the bucket in my opinion. An interesting finding that I mentioned in my last deputation, The Auditor’s report also revealed incidents where officer working paid duty shifts interfere or overlapped with regular duty (moonlightning). As a taxpayer, I have the legal right to know how the money is spent. The Police Budget has “double up” recently due to Arbitration decisions over the last 3 years an undeniable true, since the Police is an essential service just like the T.T.C . Currently the board is bargaining a new contract with the Toronto Police Association, the “union” that represents officers. Such negotiations are vital, as salaries make up roughly 90 per cent of the service's $888-million budget. This year The Police Association is seeking a 3% salary increase, but the city is facing a $785.00 million shortfall in 2012. Isn’t it time for this board to start making drastic budget changes? Respect for Taxpayers Please! Each year, across the province of Ontario, some 50 officers are suspended with pay, which costs the public around $5 million, 29 officers in Toronto alone!!. It cost the Big 12 police boards in this province $17 million in the last 5 years in salaries for suspended police officers It’s also bad for morale and creates a trust issue in the public. I also wonder…Is it fiscally prudent to have dozens of criminally charged officers on the payroll who are basically useless to Toronto Police and to the citizens who pay their salaries? This year the City’s Legal department is billing the T.P.S $610,000 for City Legal Chargeback , From time to time, the Board may require legal advice independent of the advice provided by City Legal and of the labour relations legal advice provided by contracted labour relations legal firm, Hicks & Morley. Mayor Ford here is an area that should be under close scrutiny for savings to Toronto Taxpayers, a Gravy Train nonetheless. As a taxpayer I say no to any increase in salaries..Isn’t $65, 000 dollars for a first year constable not enough to live on? . I want to ask if the T.P.S are spending our money wisely. The Feds claim “we are out of the economic recession”, “we have a strong Loonie”, and other “justifications”, Fine, if that is the case PM Mr. Harper should be ask to cover half of the City’s contribution to the Police Budget. Respect for Ontario Families! (time to unleash the ford nation on Mr.Harper?)

It’s true that generally the police force feels it is entitled to get all the taxpayers’ money and no questions asked. That’s how it has been in Toronto for the past decade as the police budget has climbed. Today it consumes almost one third of all the property tax dollars the city collects. So much money is given to the police department that we are forced to cut back on other city services. Having said that asking questions about how the police spend money, may sound like “stepping in dangerous ground”. I am afraid some one from the board may call me at the end of my deputation a cop-hater, a jerk, or something even worse than that. As a taxpayer, I want transparency, The board should look for efficiencies, to have an Officer work 10 hours a day is totally absurd. We should compare how other cities make adjustments to their operating budget. Work 24 hours and get paid 28 hours? Most Toronto Taxpayers won’t agree with Chief Blair. Can the Board adjust the time shift it pays its officers? if you need to balance your books The T.P.S needs to get on line with the Mayors direction to reduce the annual budget of this service. The current Chief can not lay off staff, but you the Board have the power to do so. Here are some ideas that the board can made decisions today: eliminating part-time and temporary positions, consolidating some police divisions, freezing promotions and a moratorium on all overtime, use parking/traffic fines collected in Toronto to pay some of the police budget. As a Taxpayer I want Accountability, The Sunshine list was released last week, This year the number of officers earning $100k over has double up. Toronto Taxpayers deserve respect. Toronto Police make up over 2,100 names out of the total Sunshine List. That's 830 more officers that made the list this year, over last. In closing, I would like to enlighten, the board with the American experience that you can benefit from. In recent months in the State of California , several cash strapped cities had made some drastic cuts to their Police Services. Some had some great solutions, One good example to avoid drastic lay offs, The City of Colton in California and the Police Association recently agreed to accept a 13% reduction on their salaries and benefits at a more acceptable level in view of the tough economic situation,( Mr. McCormack take note, please) in comparison some other small California cities had not alternative but to lay off police staff or restructure the police service altogether because the Police Union and the City won’t find a reasonable relief plan. In past years Mr. Mukherjee was hear saying at the possibility of making budget cuts to the T.P.S “We cannot justify reduction of services without laying off staff”.

Thank you for your time to listen to my deputation , you have my promise to be monitoring the budget process closely in 2012. Avila Miguel Ward 1 resident

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