Cash Running Out for New Brunswick Police Commission
Saturday, December, 5, 2015
The New Brunswick Police Commission could soon be out of money to cover the cost of arbitration hearings. More cases might be added to the agenda, but nobody is sure what will happen if funds run out. The budget strain comes as the number of arbitration hearings and settlement conferences continue to increase.
According to the commission’s executive director, the average settlement conference costs the chief of police, or the civic authority or commission approximately $20,000. The average cost of an arbitration hearing is more than $55,000. He further points out 50% of the year is already over and more than three quarters of the funding is already gone, used to cover three arbitration hearings involving officers from three different districts.
The second biggest expense for the commission, behind salaries, is legal fees. The three hearings so far this year have cost the commission more than $150,000. The commission does not hear all arbitration disputes and only handles those in which the police chief has a conflict of interest, or is new to the Police Act, the number of which continues to increase.
Union costs also continue to rise as more cases go to arbitration. Representatives of the union scoff at the idea the increase in hearings is a tactical strategy, pointing out their costs have risen, as well, and their budgets are taking a hit. One representative points out “… settlement conferences are always better… and would save us all money and save us all time, and save us all angst about growing through that subsequent arbitration process.”