TAXPAYERS in Wrexham face paying an extra 20% on the police precept next year.
Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom warned this week that the public faced a blunt choice of paying more council tax or risk a reduction in the number of police officers.
Mr Brunstrom is in the process of appointing 50 police officers, paid for by this year's 31% precept rise, but said increased Government funding of £2.4m would be wiped out by £3.8m in pay and £2m for pensions.
He told councillors that since 1997, the force had exceeded a target of making 2% cuts annually, saving £18m. Next year, the total budget will be £110m.
Police authority chairman and Wynnstay councillor Malcom King said: 'No-one wants to pay a lot more for just the same, but this is a very difficult position for us.'
The councillor pointed to a poll last year which said 75% of taxpayers would be prepared to pay extra for local policing. He was optimistic that ratepayers would still think it was worth paying.
But, he added, North Wales was 'miles short' of a standstill budget.
Mr Brunstrom said he hoped eventually there would be a community beat manager for every one of the 300 council wards in North Wales and that by March next year there would be 158 such officers, with part of the police's remit being to draw up a database of 'movers and shakers'.
He said: 'The clear message from the public is for more officers on the beat, not for better police stations. That's where all our effort is going, on front-line services.'