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Home News Budget Council approves $80,000 request for security guards in downtown core

Council approves $80,000 request for security guards in downtown core

Council approves $80,000 request for security guards in downtown core
Downtown Prince Albert is pictured. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

City Council has approved an $80,000 request from the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District (PADBID) to hire full-time security in the downtown area for another six months.

Council made the decision during the first day of budget deliberations on Wednesday. The approval follows a successful three-month long security pilot project.

PADBID will use $75,000 of the requested funds to hire two security guards per eight hour shift at five shifts a week. The remaining $5,000 will be used to hire additional contractors for special events in the downtown area.

PADBID Executive Director, Rhonda Trusty, called the downtown security pilot project a huge success and said the added security has helped save City Police resources and their already overburdened workload.

Downtown security has recorded over 350 incidents requiring a written report, according to Trusty. Out of those incidents, police assistance was only needed 20 times, mostly due to violent and aggressive individuals.

“One of the goals of the pilot project was to create positive interactions with those people who have made poor life choices,” Trusty explained. “The data collected shows that the presence of security provided an opportunity for a person to be directed to services such as soup kitchens, mental health services, and the ability to just have someone show that they are listening.”

Coun. Charlene Miller was not in support of the request and said that funding two security initiatives in the downtown is too much money, citing Police Chief Jonathan Bergen’s comment during the Police Service Budget presentation earlier in the day that confirmed police will be back in the downtown area patrolling once again.

Trusty said policing is reactive and only deals with situations after a crime has already been committed. She mentioned that the Board had taken a collaborative approach for the project by having discussions with and garnering the support of the Prince Albert Police Service and the Prince Albert Grand Council.

PADBID originally proposed that the City increase the Prince Albert Business Improvement Levy to $158,000 to fund the proposal, more than doubling the existing levy for businesses in the area. Council instead voted to allocate the requested dollars from the PADBID Operating Reserve which currently has a surplus balance of $100,261.

The PADBID’s projected budget for the 2023 year is similar to 2022. Their total expenses will once again equal $140,000. They have requested $62,000 in funding, excluding the extra dollars for security. Major differences to the 2023 budget include a 275 per cent raise in utility costs and the elimination of salaries, wages, and benefits, as they are now grouped under contracted and general services.

The $140,000 in 2023 expenditures will be funded through the Prince Albert Business Improvement Tax Levy ($78,000), the City of Prince Albert grant in lieu of taxes ($22,000), and dollars from the Downtown Improvement Reserve that will be used to provide grants and donations to businesses within the district and fund downtown events ($40,000).

Any dollars from the Downtown Improvement Reserve that are not utilized in 2023 are supposed to be returned back to the reserve, which had a balance of $242,856 on Dec. 31, 2021. The Board has instead requested that if the $40,000 is not spent, the dollars be put into the PADBID Operating Reserve to help pay for the enhanced security.

According to the PADBID 2023 Budget Document, the Downtown Improvement Reserve will have a projected surplus balance of $207,270 at the end of next budget year. 

The recommendation to fund the  2023 Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District in the amount of $62,000 and the request for an additional $80,000 was carried 8 to 1, with Miller the only vote in opposition.

Correction: Councillor Charlene Miller was in opposition of the PADBID budget, not Coun. Kilmer as previously published. The Herald apologizes for this error.