Town signs RCMP contract after census appeal fails

By on February 6, 2018

Taxpayers will pay an extra $600,000 in policing costs after the town was unsuccessful in appealing 2016 census results that showed the town’s population at more than 5,000 people. (Richard McGuire file photo)

Town of Osoyoos taxpayers are officially on the hook for an additional $600,000 in policing costs after council agreed to officially sign a new agreement with the RCMP after hearing its appeal over census results has failed and the town’s population officially does exceed 5,000.

“With the town population exceeding 5,000 people, the municipal share of policing costs increases from 30 per cent to 70 per cent,” said Chief Administrative Officer Barry Romanko during a presentation to council on Monday. “The Town had the option of developing its own municipal police force or having service delivered by the RCMP. Council’s direction was to have the RCMP serve as the municipal police force.”

The initial contract for municipal police services to the Town included paying for six RCMP members and associated costs and provincial rural policing component paid for two members and associated costs, said Romanko.

“This would see a 253 per cent increase in policing costs with the annual costs moving from $376,000 to $953,407,” he said. “Council directed the administration to appeal the Canada Census population, write letters to the province to identify community concerns relating to the member service allocation, appeal this cost increase and develop an incremental police costing model.

“This model would have the province absorb a greater amount of policing costs on an incremental scale. Over the last year discussions were held with the Minister of Public Safety and provincial staff members in an effort to reallocate costs.”

The census appeal results have come in and the Town’s official population is 5,050, so the Town is officially on the hook for the 70-30 cost sharing agreement, said Romanko.

“As a result of these discussions, a new costing proposal has been brought to council for consideration and approval,” he said. “Non-acceptance of this proposal may result in the province passing 100 per cent of the policing costs to the Town for 2017-18. The latest draft of the contract is attached and there are no proposed changes other than capturing the official town name on the contract.

For the operating years of 2017 and 2018, the detachment split will be billed as five RCMP members for the Town and three rural members, but starting in April of 2019 moving forward, the detachment will move to nine members with the Town paying for six members and the rural component at three.

“The additional officer may be available to the Town earlier, but the Town would have to pay for the officer,” he said.

The province would like to have the contract signed by the end of February, he said.

Coun. Mike Campol said it’s “very frustrating” that Osoyoos taxpayers are facing such a significant hit on their taxes because of an arbitrary regulation that hits small towns excessively hard when it comes to policing costs.

The system that dramatically increases policing costs in towns that surpass the 5,000-population limit, while maintaining the 30-70 split in other towns just under 5,000 in population is unfair and flawed, said Campol.

Campol said he was proud council “did its due diligence” and challenged the census results.

Mayor Sue McKortoff said she hopes council’s appeal and vocal opposition to the huge increase in policing costs sends a clear message to provincial leaders that this system is unfair.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

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One Comment

  1. G Pollock

    February 7, 2018 at 8:03 am

    This is a dated costing formula and common scenario; should not surprise any council or residents. Quite frankly the RCMP underresource and still provide policing with federal govt cost sharing vs converting to a municipal police force at 100% cost, unionized, predictably higher rate of pay, pension and various benefits (look to existing BC muni forces for universe facts) and greater staffing numbers (more in line with needs than RCMP runs with).

    Same movie: Towns in BC invite more residents, development etc then seem surprised when having to meet the contractual costing agreement.

    Sorry, public safety has to continue, personally I would encourage going to municipal force at great expense in order to maintain adequate staffing strength, local knowledge, less federal influence, etc.

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