Regina council approves new fund for community policing

Council voted unanimously to create the new reserve, which was approved by the Regina Police Service's board of commissioners in January. (CBC - image credit)
Council voted unanimously to create the new reserve, which was approved by the Regina Police Service's board of commissioners in January. (CBC - image credit)

Regina city council has voted in favour of a new fund to help pay for police to provide security for various community events.

City administration presented its 2021 annual reserve report during Wednesday's council meeting. It recommended that council approve a new operating reserve called the Regina Police Service (RPS) Community Policing Initiative.

The reserve is supposed to help the force's community policing initiative, as well as help pay for police overtime costs that community groups would have to pay for a police presence during an event, such as the Grey Cup.

"You can have security operated by the event organizers, but if there are additional calls because of what spills out over, we can't pull folks off patrol who are responding to 911 calls," Mayor Sandra Masters told reporters after council Wednesday.

"That's a bit of the balance there."

Council voted unanimously to create the new reserve, which was approved by the RPS board of commissioners in January.

The new reserve comes a year after Regina police were given $600,000 to attend various community events. According to the administration report, only $200,000 was used.

"The RPS does not necessarily spend all that money in one year, depending on what type of activities are happening," said Barry Lacey, the city's executive director of financial strategy and sustainability, during Wednesday's council meeting.

"In years where you have a Grey cup, there's a significant need there. In other years, it might be lower. So this reserve is intended to, basically, capture those unused funds in a particular year."

The $400,000 remaining from last year will be transferred into the new fund.

The reserve will have a maximum balance of $1.5 million.

Masters envisions this reserve will be used for two to three years before council reassesses, she said.

Current state of Regina's cash reserves

In 2021, the city's reserve balance increased by five per cent, to $209.6 million at the end of 2021 from approximately $199.4 million at the beginning of the year. According to the administration's report, this is largely due to the operating surpluses into the general utility fund.

The city has 22 reserve funds, each with a different maximum cash range. By the end of the year, six of them were outside their ranges while 16 were within. That means that the city has plenty of rainy day funds at its disposal.

Administration recommended that no transfer be made from the city's Fleet Replacement Reserve due to the potential increased cost for transitioning the fleet to alternative power.

Administration also recommends that no transfers be made from the General Utility Reserve due to ongoing projects and future capital plans. Near-term capital investments from this reserve include $10.9 million for the water infrastructure renewal project, $10.1 million for the water meter and automated meter reading replacement project, and another $10.7 million for the water infrastructure renewal project.

The report says that reserves are projected to decrease to a combined $162.9 million at the end of 2022 due to planned projects approved by council in the 2022 budget.

Administration states that overall, Regina's reserve balance is considered reasonable compared to other municipalities.