Recently there has been much discussion over the need for major renovations to the existing police HQ or the construction of a new building. The need for renovations seem to be based on past neglect and failure to maintain a capital asset, the building.
The cost has escalated from an initial $13 million to $34 million. No such expenditure should go ahead until a detailed third party analysis of the cost savings to be realized by the combining of the “backroom” non-police support activities of the Guelph Police Services (GPS), Guelph Fire Department, and Guelph Ambulance services is carried out. The support activities to be merged and eventually farmed out to a private company should include but are not limited to accounting, payroll, IT (information technology), human resources, purchasing and material control, fleet maintenance, building and grounds maintenance.
Furthermore, the reported exiting from the recently built Clair Road facility by the GPS has to be reversed as not only does the growing south end needs the coverage, but all GPS units do not have to be co-located. Similarly, the cost saving to be realized by a centralized dispatch system for all 3 branches must be investigated given that police, fire, and ambulance seem to respond to all emergency calls irrespective of the nature. It is acknowledged that there is provincially mandated central region wide dispatch for EMS, that should not hobble consolidation consideration.
Given that crime rates are now at low levels not seen since the 1960’s, the manpower requirements of the GPS has to be re-assessed. There is no need for the basis of projected growth of the GPS both in manpower and facility size.
The business case report presented by a representative of KPMG at a council meeting made repeated references to cost offsetting “synergies” expected from spending on the facility. This sounds like another way of saying that they don’t know what is going to happen and bets on financial outcomes are being hedged. There were no “hard numbers” presented in the business case relating to cost savings based on merging or outsourcing the previously mentioned services. This is a major fault and should have brought the consideration of provision of the $34 Million to a grinding halt. However, given the apparent numeric and financial illiteracy of council and the administration, the funds were approved and city debt will increase.