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Policing services policy under revision

St. Albert city councillors are set to give their final approval Monday to changes to their policing services policy.

The policy underwent a review after the previous city council established the city’s policing committee last year.

Aaron Giesbrecht, manager of policing services, told councillors during the Sept. 10 meeting of the governance, priorities and finance committee that the review resulted in several recommended changes to the policy.

Some of the big changes to the policy include removing council’s responsibility to participate in the annual RCMP policing priority setting, and having the annual public policing report released instead of being formally presented to council.

Coun. Ken MacKay questioned how members of council would be able to provide input on policing matters under the new policy.

Giesbrecht said there could be opportunities for feedback through the committee’s council representative, currently Coun. Sheena Hughes, but councillors would not be able to provide formal input as they have done in the past.

“Philosophically … that’s the role of the policing committee, and that’s what council chose when they established one in 2017 – to speak for council when developing the policing priorities,” he said.

“Council has delegated that down to this committee.”

Hughes added that while members of council used to have formal input in the past, it was toward the end of the process and had minimal effect on changing policing documents.

Giesbrecht said while city staff didn’t consult with the policing committee before drawing up their report, they have met with the committee since then.

“I can tell you that we met with them last week and that they did review it and supported the changes as presented,” he said.

Small overages in contract awards to be delegated

The governance, priorities and finance committee agreed Sept. 10 to push forward with recommended expansion of the city manager’s authority.

Under the new rules, councillors will no longer need to sign off on contract awards that are higher than the budget they approved, so long as the overage is limited to within 10 per cent of said budget or $50,000.

Brenda Barclay, the city’s manager of financial operations, told the governance, priorities and finance committee Sept. 10 the change would mean councillors wouldn’t need to approve small variances.

“This makes it more transparent overall, so we’re not coming to council with a budget that’s over by $1,” Barclay said.

“This would ensure efficient and effective operation of the city.”

The city manager will also now be able to sign off on grant agreements of any value for council-approved projects.

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