Police, fire and paramedic spending to blame for Winnipeg budget shortfall: report

Throwaway spending within the Winnipeg Police Service and paying overtime to fire paramedic staff are what the City of Winnipeg is pointing to for a projected shortfall in its operating budget this year.

The City’s first-quarter financial report shows a projected $27 million deficit in its operating budget, largely due to shortages within the Winnipeg police and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, while Winnipeg Transit is in the red to the tune of $2.5 million.

The report, which looks at the city’s finances up to the end of March, shows enforcement revenue and failure to meet spending management targets with the WPS will amount to a $12.8 million deficit, while paying overtime and workers compensation will cost the WFPS $7.4 million over their allowance.

The report will be presented to the standing policy committee on June 2.

Financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic lessened over the year, the report states. The City factored $18.7 million of financial struggles to the 2023 budget, while the report shows $1 million in impacts have been identified to date.

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The projected impact of the pandemic is well below that of previous years, which saw $53 million in COVID costs in 2022 and $73 million in 2021.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 continues to eat into Winnipeg’s budget, finance report shows'

COVID-19 continues to eat into Winnipeg’s budget, finance report shows

In a release Monday, the City said a reserve fund can be dipped into to make up $19.5 million of the projected deficit, while a plan will be presented to the standing policy committee on June 30 to address the remainder.

“The current forecast does pose a serious challenge for the City for the remainder of the year. Departments will be required to maintain prudent fiscal management going forward as the City focuses on these early operating shortfalls,” finance chair Coun. Jeff Browaty said in the release.

The report states that until the deficit is settled, the City will “be in a more difficult position to approve any over-expenditure requests, potentially causing some disruption to services.”

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Transit saw a continued dip in ridership levels during the reporting period, with an expected decrease of 17 per cent below normal levels. Fare revenue is expected to be under budget by $500,000.

Click to play video: 'City council approves Winnipeg’s 2023 budget'

City council approves Winnipeg’s 2023 budget

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