There are still some big questions for municipalities that depend on the OPP for policing.
The OPP is in the middle of reworking the way it charges communities for the work officers do. The province and OPP recently announced the new scheme will see municipalities pay a base amount for crime prevention, officer training and administrative duties making up about 60 per cent of the bill. Calls for service will make up about 40 per cent of the bill.
Under the scheme about 207 of the municipalities will see costs increase, although officials say most increases will be less than $100 per property while the majority will see a $75 decrease.
While some numbers have been released, Lambton County Warden Todd Case says it really hasn’t cleared anything up yet for local municipalities.
When municipal politicians gathered in London for the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference on the weekend, they were expecting the Minister of Community Safety to clarify some things. Case says he didn’t.
“He really didn’t tell us anything we hadn’t already heard,” says Case. “The information sessions didn’t give us that much more information.
“We need to know what our number is.”
That number is the cost per household. Nine of the municipalities in Lambton County are part of a policing group. They contract services together then divide the cost of policing based on population. For Case, who is the mayor of Warwick, that magic number is now $618 per household and he’s expecting to go down.
But that’s about all he’s expecting. Case says right now it is not clear what the OPP’s per household rate will be nor how much each individual call will cost.
Then there is the added problem of whether the Lambton municipalities will be charged individually or continue to work as a group. Case say some municipalities may have a low cost for policing and then leave the group rather than paying for other communities higher costs.
“The Lambton group needs to do the math, do their homework to decide whether that Lambton group is still positive for all of us,” says Case noting the larger group can bear the cost of larger investigations such as murders and armed robberies. “Or maybe every municipality goes off on its own…If Warwick is paying $400 per household but the Lambton group wants costs to be $550…council will have to consider to see if there is merits to being part of the group.”
But Case says at this point, he’s not sure the OPP will continue to recognize the joint purchasing group in Lambton.
All this when the OPP’s new billing method will take effect in just five months.
“There is a lot of clarification that still needs to be done,” says Case.
“We need to know what the number is.”
The OPP says municipalities should have some hard numbers in a couple of weeks.