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Another $5.5M requested in Abbotsford budget for police and fire services

Departments ask for a combined additional 12 employees in 2023 draft budget
Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service’s budget request for 2023 includes eight more firefighters, while the Abbotsford Police Department is asking for four additional officers. (Abbotsford New file photo)

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is asking the city for $4 million more in its budget for 2023, while Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS) is requesting a $1.5 million increase over 2022.

The figures were part of recent presentations to council on the 2023 draft budget. The budget calls for the biggest property-tax revenue increase in years at 5.98 per cent.

The APD forms the largest portion of city expenditures at 20 per cent, while AFRS represents eight per cent.

Deputy Chief Jason Burrows told council that the APD is requesting a seven per cent increase over last year, but only 1.34 per cent is discretionary.

The total proposed APD budget for 2023 is $62.5 million.

Burrows said the bulk of the increase is uncontrollable and is related to wage increases, a $1 million hike in E-comm costs, and “almost unprecedented” inflation rates.

The discretionary expenses include the hiring of four new officers.

Burrows said the APD budgeted those four positions to be newer officers – rather than first-class constables – “with the city’s budget in mind.”

RELATED: Abbotsford proposed property-tax increase highest in years at almost 6 per cent

Burrows said the APD currently has one police officer per 758 citizens, which is less than other Lower Mainland communities such as Delta (with 583), West Vancouver (602), New Westminster (719) and Victoria (456).

“With us being the hub of the Fraser Valley on our horizon, addressing an international airport, policing the largest jurisdiction in B.C., embracing culture and diversity, this is something we really have to keep an eye on as a measure,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFRS’s proposed budget is $23.3 million for 2023, a net increase of almost $1.5 million from 2022.

The increase includes $1.08 million for eight new firefighters and $125,000 for the implementation of a “fire digital strategy.”

Fire Chief Erick Peterson said, as the community grows and changes, so does the role of a firefighter.

“These additional FTEs (full-time equivalent) firefighters will give the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service the ability to initiate a medical response unit, which should take some of the high-call volume off some of our other fire halls, reducing the load that they’re currently carrying,” he said.

Other increases include $78,000 more for utilities and insurance and a $48,000 hike in contract services.

Council will vote on the budget later this spring.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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