Dawn-Euphemia politicians say the OPP have to deal with the rising cost of policing, not simply change the way municipalities pay for it.
Deputy Mayor Leslie William was among a group of municipal politicians who were in London recently to hear the OPP’s new options for paying for policing.
The two mostly likely options are using the tax base to calculate how much each municipality owes or paying a base rate for services plus a flat rate for each call the OPP attends in the municipality.
But Williams says she, and the other municipal representatives there, all had the same thought; “The proposed billing model does not address escalating cost of policing.”
“The politicians in the room were stressing to get the cost under control,” says Williams noting “73 percent (of the OPP’s budget) is still not transparent for municipalities and taxpayers.”
And Mike Schnare, Dawn-Euphemia’s administrator-clerk who also attended the session, says it was clear the cost of policing wasn’t about to go down. “2014 is going to include the 8.55 percent salary adjustment for police officers.”
If there was a positive during the session, Williams says it may be that Dawn-Euphemia will not see an increase in the cost it pays for policing. Right now, it is at $490 per resident and OPP officials at the conference said those over $400 per household were “not likely” to see an increase with the new billing method.
“We could even see a small reduction yet,” says Mayor Bill Bilton. “I’m not confident that’s going to happen,” Williams quickly added.
The province wants the OPP to implement the new billing method by 2015 and the OPP is asking municipalities to say which funding model they prefer. Dawn-Euphemia administrators will look at both options and present the findings to council as soon as possible.
In Petrolia, Treasurer Rick Charlebois is trying to figure out how the proposed funding models might affect the town’s bottom line. “If we’re a net winner or loser, we don’t know yet,” he says.
But he does have some concerns. “Right now we have a lot of input (through the Lambton Policing Group) under the proposed model 73 percent of the cost will be fixed with no local input…the biggest con is making it province-wide and lot of the costs will be fixed and the local police services board won’t be able to influence that.”