St. Marys Journal Argus
The actual 2015 cost for policing in St. Marys should come in at almost $100,000 less than the budgeted amount, judging from an estimate provided to the town’s Police Services Board (PSB) at a meeting last week.
According to PSB Chair Henry de Young, an estimate of approximately $1.32 million for 2015 costs was delivered by the Perth County detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to the PSB for its Oct. 22 meeting. The amount included in the Town’s 2015 budget, by contrast, was approximately $1.42 million.
De Young noted the change comes as a result of a full-scale revamping of the way in which contract costs are determined by the OPP for the municipalities it serves. This was undertaken through negotiation with Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and it reflected a desire by the Ministry to have the calculation of costs move away from being heavily weighted towards calls-for-service, and more towards the number of residences being served.
“The reduction (compared to the budgeted amount) would have been greater (for the 2015 service in the Town of St. Marys) except that, under this new model, it’s being phased in over three years,” explained the PSB chair.
Specifically, the estimated amount in the detachment’s report is based on a cost per property of $405.27. This is $30 less than what was budgeted in the town’s 2015 planning. Next year, there should be another $30 reduction; the year after that, it’s expected that an additional $12 per property should come off the detachment’s annual bill to the town.
De Young noted that municipalities like St. Marys should benefit from the move away from a calls-for-service basis for calculating policing costs. Municipalities with very few calls for service, but with territory stretching across a wide, sparsely-populated area, may see increases.
“I suppose, if there’s a real hue and cry, the government might back down” on working with the OPP to implement the new model. “But the reason they were doing this, I believe, was because it was seen as more fair . . . And it was a big job to come up with this so I don’t think we’ll see them moving away from this model for a number of years.”
Last week’s estimate provided by the OPP does not represent an actual contract. It was provided solely as information. According to de Young, an actual contract may be months away.
He said the OPP’s leadership, over the past year, concentrated mainly on negotiations with the Ministry for the new funding model. As a result, there is a huge backlog of contracts with municipalities, and it’s expected they’ll now begin getting the contracts with larger municipalities out of the way first.
De Young stressed that the town will not be without OPP coverage, even if the official end of the current agreement passes on Dec. 31. Provisions of the current agreement will remain in place, and once a new contract is signed, it will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.
The PSB chair added it will most likely be a four-year contract. “And, of course, we’re not compelled to sign the contract. That will be up to Town Council,” he added.