OPP cost hikes hit townships

Obscenely high and unsustainable policing costs. OPP bills are destroying communities its officers are supposed to protect. Apparent self-interest is cloaked in the guise of public safety needs. Where is the political outrage while OPP costs continue to climb? Who is going to bring policing costs in this province under control?

OPP cost hikes hit townships

Postby Thomas » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:46 am

MALLORYTOWN - Significant increases in Ontario Provincial Police costs have the leaders of some rural municipalities in Leeds County raising the alarm.

“We’re facing insane OPP increases,” said Front of Yonge Township Mayor Roger Haley, who was left shaking his head over figures recently provided to the municipality for the second year of a new costing formula introduced in 2014.

Haley’s municipality faces a 24 per cent hike in police costs. Similar increases are being faced in several Leeds municipalities: 20 per cent in Athens; 22 per cent in Rideau Lakes and 17 per cent in Westport.

Precise numbers weren’t available for Leeds and Thousand Islands but an increase over $300,000 is expected.

By contrast, policing costs are mostly flat in Grenville County with a reduction coming for the second straight year in the Municipality of North Grenville and a negligible difference seen in Merrickville-Wolford, Edwardsburgh-Cardinal and Augusta Townships.

There is little change in Elizabethtown-Kitley Township in Leeds County.

In Front of Yonge, the 24 per cent jump adds $77,393 to the 2015 bill for a new total of $402,572 in 2016.

Haley said the implications are horrendous for taxpayers in a municipality that operates with a modest budget of $2.2 million.

Municipal property owners paid $1.4 million in taxes for 2015 and the new OPP tab raises the prospect of a 5.5 per cent increase on the tax levy just for policing alone, said the mayor.

“Our people can’t afford that,” he said.

Haley has plenty in common with other municipal leaders in Leeds who intend to speak on the matter at next month’s United Counties committee of the whole meeting to find common ground to fight the increase.

Rideau Lakes Mayor Ron Holman said one matter of particular is a sudden surge in the number of properties used by the OPP to justify a portion of the increase.

Holman said figures provided to the provincial police by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation show 350 new properties under assessment in Rideau Lakes which reflects part of a higher cost for policing.

But the municipality did not add 350 new developments in the past year and he suggested trailer park homes may have been identified as separate properties instead of a single unit under the ownership of the park.

In Rideau Lakes, the increase would require a five per cent tax hike if it cannot be moderated otherwise, he said.

“I said when the new formula was introduced it was a flawed system and I feel it is significantly more flawed if my assumptions on this year’s increase are correct,” he said.

Mayors Herb Scott of Athens, Joe Baptista of Leeds and the Thousand Islands and Robyn Jones of Westport echoed concerns about the impact on their constituents.

“It’s not a criticism of OPP officers, it’s the impact on the communities and I’m glad were looking at the matter next month to see if we can influence the decision,” said Jones. The matter will also be brought up for discussion next week at a meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, where Ron Holman is a director.

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