‘Humungous’ policing costs increasingly hard to bear

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?

‘Humungous’ policing costs increasingly hard to bear

Postby Thomas » Fri Jan 01, 2016 8:39 am

‘Humungous’ policing costs increasingly hard to bear: council

Havelock – Collectively, seven Peterborough County municipalities will pay over $8.6 million for OPP policing in 2016 an increase of $1,142,692 and that’s without the eighth, Cavan-Monaghan, which has signed on with the City of Peterborough in an effort to reduce costs.

Cavan-Monaghan paid just over $1.3 million for OPP policing in 2015 and will pay $133,440 less this year with the city, a report from Havelock-Belmont-Methuen CAO Pat Kemp indicates.

Selwyn Township’s Lakefield ward is also policed by the city at a cost of $549,260 with the municipality paying $2,217,606 to the OPP to cover the rest of the township.

All told, Peterborough County’s eight municipalities will pay $10,406,911 for policing in 2016.

“$10 million and change is a lot for eight little rural municipalities for policing,” says HBM Mayor Ron Gerow a vocal critic of escalating policing costs which are bringing ever-greater pressures to bear on municipal budgets, especially in rural communities.

HBM has been hit hard with the second highest increase ($245,277) for 2016; only Trent Lakes ($385,110) will experience a larger increase over the next year. Asphodel-Norwood is the only municipality in the county that’s seen a decrease ($5,753) under the OPP’s new funding model which combines calls for service with a province-wide base service cost applied to all municipalities served by the OPP.

“These are humungous increases and we’ve talked about the unsustainability of them,” Gerow said.

The municipality is grappling with their 2016 budget and knows policing represents four per cent of the first draft’s proposed 5.04 per cent municipal tax levy increase. Council’s working to bring that increase down to three per cent but has no control over the policing figure which is now almost as large as HBM’s roads budget.

“It’s an unmanageable number. It’s hard to absorb these huge increases,” said Gerow, quick to praise the work the police do.

“Every year it’s the same thing. They give us an amount to pay and we pay it. How in the world can you finally say, ‘no, we can’t afford it?’” added Councillor Barry Pomeroy.

During some future budget debate that’s going to be an option the municipality is “going to have to take a serious look at,” Gerow said.

At some point, he said, a municipality is going to say “this is the amount we have; you’ll have to police us accordingly.

“It’s like your own personal bank account; when it’s empty it’s empty. How long do you keep going? We’ve been telling the government this for years; they don’t listen. Maybe that’s what we do when it comes time to writing the cheque: ‘Here’s the amount we’re going to pay this year.’”

Councillor David Gerow calls budget time a “stressful enough time for any council and for ratepayers” only to be compounded by policing costs which loom over everything.

“In the back of our minds we’re trying to pare back things for the municipality to afford but it’s all about policing, because we get hit so hard.”

Mayor Gerow says it reminds him of the days when municipalities couldn’t set rates until they knew what school boards were going to do.

“Here we are full circle again with the OPP this time.”

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