Policing costs drive HBM budget increase

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?

Policing costs drive HBM budget increase

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:51 am

Havelock – A major increase in policing costs is driving a potential tax increase in Havelock-Belmont-Methuen.

Township council got a “first blush” look at the draft 2016 budget which proposes a 5.04 per cent tax hike with a staggering $245,277 increase in contract OPP policing costs accounting for four per cent of that.

The 2016 municipal tax levy requirement is $5,465,659, a jump of $420,039 or 8.32 per cent.

Policing costs in HBM went up from $991,000 to over $1.2 million under the OPP’s new funding formula and because the municipality’s per household cost stayed below $40 it did not qualify for a phase-in.

There are 101 new households in HBM, which on every other count is a good thing.

Policing costs represent 24.5 per cent of the levy increase, Treasurer Carol James said.

James used a $28,500 transfer from reserves and an additional $15,000 in Ontario Municipal Partnership Funds (OMPF) to bring the increase down to $201,777 lowering the proposed tax hike to four per cent.

“If council wished to fund more of the increase the amount of taxation increase would be decreased,” James said. “I’m not sure if council wants to fund more of the increase. There is just not much more we can do to take that away.”

Right now the increase equates to $21.49 per $100,000 of assessment, she said.

Council could use more OMPF dollars or reserve funds to mitigate the impact. There’s $138,880 left in HBM’s 2015 provincial OMPF allocation, James said.

The final 2016 assessment roll totals won’t be known until the end of this month or early December and those numbers could further reduce the rates. In the draft budget, a property assessed at $250,000 would see municipal taxes increase by $53.73 or 5.04 per cent.

Area rates for village ward residents have seen a slight 2.96 per cent ($6.30) rise.

Village ward residents pay for sidewalks, streetlights, and curbside garbage collection through area rates which stand at $124,000 for 2016.

“This hasn’t changed a lot. The only thing that changed was streetlights a tiny bit,” said James.

There’s a proposed $2 increase in flat water rates for both residential and commercial properties with no change proposed for sewer rates other than those on commercial metered accounts which go up $10.

User fees will generate $132,288 for the King Street reconstruction project which includes water and sewer work.

“We can go away and take a look at this,” Mayor Ron Gerow said.

Mayor Gerow said it was “highly important” ratepayers “know where that increase is coming from.”

“We don’t want anyone getting a false picture. It is what it is,” he said. “A five per cent increase I don’t think is palatable. All but one per cent of that is policing. We’re going to have to find a way to mitigate that.”

“I know we can’t become reliant on OMPF. I don’t want to see council move in the direction where we are utilizing those funds to mitigate costs, especially policing, in the long term.”

Council will host one special public meeting on the budget where ratepayers can comment.

“We want to do everything that’s humanly possible to get it out there so everybody’s following it,” Gerow said.

Copies of the draft budget will be on the HBM website and are available at the municipal office.

http://www.insidebelleville.com/news-st ... -increase/
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