/County working on alternative OPP model

County working on alternative OPP model

April 30 2014
By Chad Ingram

Haliburton County is working on an alternative OPP billing model to submit to the province one that would encapsulate commercial and industrial properties.

A new billing model set to come into effect in 2015 seeks to equalize OPP payments throughout the province on a per household basis and would see collective annual policing costs in Haliburton County spike from $3.3 to $8.5 million.

The county’s treasurer has repeatedly called the model flawed for a number of reasons one of which is that it includes seasonal residences (weighting them evenly with year-round residences) but does not include commercial and industrial properties.

At an April 23 council meeting treasurer Laura Janke told council that after receiving permission from the county’s four reeves she had contacted the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for information on commercial industrial and institutional properties.

Janke should receive the information by early May and will be using it to put together a new case to submit to the province.

A steering committee on OPP billing assembled by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario released a report April 10 that recommended the province proceed with the per household model or a model that would operate on blended per household/weighted assessment.

The latter option would essentially have the same outcome for the county in fact costing a few thousand dollars more.

Under the per household model 73 per cent of the bill – or approximately $260 per household – would be charged for the base or fixed overhead costs of policing while 27 per cent of the bill would be based on calls for service.

This figure will vary depending on the number of calls in an area.

The province has shown some indication to consider changing that weighting to 60 per cent base and 40 per cent per call but Janke suggested that a 15/85 per cent split would be more fair.

The county has requested and received call statistics from the local detachment for the past three years.

The county has requested a meeting with Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi through MPP Laurie Scott and is still awaiting a reply.

The county has orchestrated a day of action against the proposed billing formula for May 1 encouraging residents to email or call the office of the minister or the premier or take to Twitter with the hashtag #OPPMayDay.

The proposed formula would see tax increases of between 20 and 36 per cent throughout the county’s lower tier townships to absorb.