City council approves new funding strategy for Vancouver Police Department
Press Release Date:
On Monday, Vancouver City Council approved a stable and sustainable funding strategy for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) that will add a total of 61 sworn and civilian positions to the department by 2020.
The revenue package at the core of the strategy was developed by a Community Resource Team (CRT), which was convened by city council in spring 2016. The CRT was comprised of 20 representatives from the community, business organizations, neighborhood organizations and city council. The CRT met from April through November last year to review public opinion, analyze current and historic police budgets, review staffing analyses and explore revenue options before making recommendations to city council in December about how to address gaps in police services.
The funding strategy recommended by the CRT, and approved by council, includes a mix of existing and new revenue sources that will generate $5.1 million in 2017, increasing to $12.5 million by 2020, and ongoing thereafter.
The council-approved revenue package includes:
- a federal community policing (COPS) grant (secured)
- the City’s portion of the recreational marijuana sales tax revenue (secured)
- new tax revenues from the proposed Van Mall North annexation (pending)
- increases to and expansion of business license surcharges:
- business license fee surcharge per employee (increase)
- square footage fee on retail, commercial and industrial space (new)
- per unit fee on multi-family residential developments (new)
- increased utility taxes (new)
The multi-family per unit fee will exclude units that house low income tenants, including senior citizens or the disabled.
“The CRT’s funding strategy will allow the Vancouver Police Department to fill service gaps that have existed since the Great Recession, when all city departments experienced significant cuts,” said Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain, Ph. D. “We will focus these new resources on programs that Vancouver citizens have indicated were important to them, such as our Traffic Unit, Property Crimes Unit and community outreach programs. We will also add more patrol officers, intelligence officers and drug and gang task force officers, in addition to civilian technicians and other support staff.”
As part of the funding strategy, the CRT also recommended that the City conduct a comprehensive public outreach process with the goal of developing a holistic solution to long-range service and resource needs for all City services. City council approved this recommendation and the outreach process will begin this year.
To balance the immediate resource needs of the police department with the need for a public outreach process, Vancouver City Council approved delaying implementation of the new retail, commercial and industrial space surcharge and multi-family per unit fee until 2019.
The funding strategy also allows for the repeal of the proposed square footage and multi-family per unit fees altogether if another, alternative funding source could be identified by the end of 2018 through the public outreach process.
For more information about the funding strategy and the CRT process, please visit www.cityofvancouver.us/crt.
Jan Bader, Program and Policy Development Manager