Municipalities looking for policing answers

River District Municipal Association members have more questions than answers about the $218 per household cost municipalities are going to be billed for policing starting Jan. 1.
Now the RRDMA executive is hoping an OPP rep will be able to provide a clearer picture of what’s ahead at its annual meeting Sept. 17 in Rainy River.
One key issue is why policing costs were calculated the same across the district. Morson Reeve Gordon Prost noted they were told costs would be on a per-incident basis for each community.
“In the meantime, these other figures came out from the government,” he said yesterday, admitting they were surprised at the expected bill.
“Right now, I don’t think we have the whole story. And because of that, we don’t like what we see,” he added. “Until we get the whole story out of somebody, it’s very hard to say what’s going on.”
If Morson and McCrosson-Tovell amalgamate, their annual policing cost was calculated at $108,000. And for a community that doesn’t see police officers very often, Reeve Prost wondered why they were paying so much.
“We’ll pay as much as everybody else but then we want to see them as much as everybody else,” he reasoned.
Reeve Prost noted Rainy River would be paying $10,000 a year less–$98,696–for policing yet the town reaped all the benefits of having the OPP office there.
And if they were paying more, Reeve Prost felt it made more sense that the OPP office be located there.
“How could everybody’s work out to be $218?” echoed Emo Reeve Brian Reid, adding that figure didn’t factor businesses into the equation–only residences.
Part of the problem, he added, was townships were getting this added cost while they were struggling to find a way to cope with all the other services being downloaded by the province.
The province released preliminary estimates for policing costs Aug. 6–Alberton ($70,091); Atwood ($36,247); Chapple ($78,389); Emo ($109,613); La Vallee ($78,825); McCrosson-Tovell ($34,936); Morley ($40,395); and Morson ($73,148).
No figures were provided for Blue, Dilke and Worthington, which recently amalgamated with Atwood to form Dawson Township.
Sgt. Dave Don, with the OPP’s municipal contract policing in Orillia, said these estimates were based on the number of incidents in the district in 1996.
A second set of estimated costs are expected later this fall, based on the number of incidents during the first seven months of 1997. And Sgt. Don stressed those were only estimates.
“They’ll pay on the actual workload,” he noted, adding it was the government’s decision that it would be calculated on a district-wide basis.
And it still isn’t known how townships will be billed. Sgt. Don noted with regular contracts, it was done on a quarterly basis and he anticipated that would be done the same way.
The province has yet to reveal policing costs for the unincorporated areas and First Nations but that announcement is expected soon.