Although council sees an opportunity to pad other areas of the budget with excess police funds, the RCMP say they could actually be put in the red.
During the Feb. 13 budget deliberation meeting, Coun. Cameron Stolz highlighted numbers demonstrating the RCMP had come in under budget for the past five years.
According to a report from public safety and civic facilities director Rob Whitwam, the average surplus between 2007 and 2012 was $895,885.
Today, beginning at the 3:30 p.m. in council chambers, members of council will sit down to figure out what to do with potential extra money from the police pot.
Last year's surplus of more than $2.1 million is said to be an anomaly.
According to Prince George RCMP Supt. Eric Stubbs, that windfall was due to accounting issues, a high number of member absences due to medical and parental leave, job vacancies, a lack of serious crime investigations and partnerships.
"In 2012, we investigated two murders in the City of Prince George," Stubbs wrote in a report to council. "With this lower than average number, we did not expend investigative dollars on these complex/costly incidents."
The police budget proposed for 2013 is $21.6 million and council wants to know what it could do with a $20.4 million budget instead.
The smaller 2013 proposal represents a $1 million increase from 2012, but $600,000 of that is needed just to remain status quo, according to Stubbs. The $20.4 million would be easily surpassed with fewer vacancies in 2013, actually leaving the police budget in a deficit, he added.
"Administration's understanding is that council's expectation is the for the superintendent to provide the same level of police service in 2013 as was provided in 2012," Whitwam wrote.
The 2012 budget was based on 121 RCMP members - the city has a contract for 128. "Assuming administration's understanding is correct, the scenario under consideration for the 2013 police protection budget could result in the 2013 police protection actual expenditures being over budget by approximately $1,000,000."
In his report, Stubbs explained that since the city is contracted to provide funding for 128 members, removing any "extra" money from the budget would actually fund 109 members.
He also pointed to a 2008 study that suggested the Prince George detachment needs 12 more members for core policing duties.
"Since 2008, the demands on our members have increased in regards to more accountability for their actions and more complex investigations," Stubbs wrote. "This increased demand and stress placed on our general duty members cannot be sustained."
If council were to go ahead with reallocating, the money could be funneled to funding of the new crime prevention task force, to help with debt reduction for the new 18th Avenue yard building or to the recently approved grant to cover the remainder of the permissive tax exemptions.
The money could also be used to bump up the road rehabilitation budget and to boost the parks budget to bring neighbourhood park maintenance back to 2011 levels.