Sault Ste. Marie Police Service (SSMPS) says that a 30 per cent shortfall in funding for court services from the provincial government will have a "direct impact" on its budget in 2019.
In 2018, SSMPS received roughly $820,729 from the Ontario government in order to provide security for the provincial courthouse.
This year, the police service will be receiving approximately $585,188.
“After reviewing the Court Services funding agreement, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service will be receiving significantly fewer dollars in 2019 to provide security for the local provincial courthouse. Our funding will be nearly 30 per cent lower than in 2018,” said Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Hugh Stevenson in an email to SooToday. “That will have a direct impact on our budget and we will be forced to redirect money from other areas of the service to cover the additional cost.”
Stevenson says it’s not clear what services will be impacted by the approximate $235,541 funding shortfall, but a “significant amount” of money will need to be reallocated to offset the change to the province’s funding model.
“We have not received an explanation as to why we are receiving less funding, but we will make the necessary adjustments in order to properly serve our community,” he said.
While SSMPS is confident that it has enough budget flexibility to withstand the court security funding decrease, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano - who also serves as chair of the Police Services Board - makes it clear that the province should be covering the costs.
“This is a download from the provincial government to our municipality,” Provenzano told SooToday via email statement. “Unfortunately, the police service will have to reallocate funds budgeted to address pressing needs in our community to covering something that is clearly a provincial responsibility and expense.”
Earlier this month, the mayor of Barrie, Ont. slammed the provincial government over funding cuts to that city’s police service, including a $300,000 cut to its Court Security Grant, which is intended to fund provincial courthouse security.
“I can’t speak to the funding other police services in the province are receiving,” said Stevenson. “But, I can say it is disappointing the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is left holding the bill for a provincially mandated service.”