Chronicle Staff Writer
December 9, 2009
Policing issues will not be a major issue in the upcoming 2010 Municipal Election. Once the OPP contract renewal is accepted by Haldimand County Council, it will not renew until 2014.
During the 2006 Haldimand County Municipal Election Campaign, policing services for Haldimand County was one of the major election issues.
Several councillors and candidates promised if elected they would replace the OPP, some opted to at least look into the issue. This option turned out to be a no option due to either lack of interest from surrounding agencies or the costs to the County to go back to their own force.
Negotiations have been ongoing since September 30, 2008 when the contract with the OPP expired. The new OPP contract will be for a five-year term starting on October 1, 2009.
The increase to taxpayers will be substantial states staffs report.
At last Monday’s Council in Committee meeting, Carl Butler from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) presented Haldimand County Council with an overview of the details related to the renewal of the current OPP Contact. Butler invited questions and concerns from council members in regards to the contract renewal.
One question was asked in relation to by-law enforcement. Butler clarified that the by-law enforcement that the OPP engages in is that of “police related by-laws”.
Under General Provisions of the new OPP contract it states;
“For the purposes of s. 10(6) of the Police Services Act, the O.P.P. shall provide police services to the Municipality, including the enforcement of mutually agreed upon by-laws. The parties shall annually review this part of the Agreement with a view to revising or updating the list of by-laws requiring O.P.P. enforcement”.
“Municipal Building Code violations overseen by the Municipality’s Building Code inspector and those by-laws related to animal control will not form part of this Agreement”.
The above OPP General Provision for By-law enforcement is exactly the same as the agreement that was signed by Haldimand County on September 22, 2003.
In 2008 the base amount for policing was $7,198,676.00, for 2010 there are two options, the first option is $8,307,976.00 (an increase of $1,109,300.00) and option two is $8,005,080 (an increase of $806,404.00).
The difference between Option #1 and Option #2, is, Option #2 is a reduction of 3,257 hours in the guaranteed minimum service level, which equates to less than 9 hours per day.
Haldimand County General Manager of Corporate Services Karen General is recommending Council accepts and enters into a five-year contract with the OPP at the Option #2 level.
Service levels Options #1 and #2 were presented to the Haldimand County Police Services Board on December 2, 2009 due to their responsibilities under the contract and per the Police Services Act.
Following the discussion the Haldimand County Police Services Board passed the following motion:
“That Haldimand County Police Services Board supports Option #1 and is not supportive of officer reductions as per Option #2 and this position be relayed to Haldimand County Council immediately”.
Both Haldimand County Staff and the solicitor disagree with the position of the Haldimand County Police Services Board.
The main issue of disagreement according to the staff report is that although Option #1 would provide an enhanced level of policing service beyond the “minimum” required level at a cost of over $300,000.00 per year. Given the economic challenges facing the municipality and its taxpayers, this is difficult to justify given the issue of bodies and hours as outlined in the contract, states the report.
The above increases under option one or two are substantial; a tax levy increase of 2.4% and 1.75% respectively would be required.
The report goes on to further state regardless of the service option approved by council there will be a significant levy impact to be absorbed in 2010.
This will significantly affect the ability to meet the target “2%” overall tax increase that Council has established as a budget guideline for all County Services. Staff will need to determine a means of dealing with this increase; a significant tax levy impact should be expected states the report.
Haldimand County paid an estimated $5,559,872.00 for policing in 2002 and when the contract was negotiated in 2003 the cost for policing was estimated at $5,847,954.00.
Haldimand County Council will vote on the OPP contract on Thursday December 10th at the Budget Meeting that starts at 9:30am.
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