April 30 2014
By Chad Ingram
Alternative policing methods are being explored by some municipalities as they struggle to deal with large cost increases that would be brought on by a new OPP billing model set to come into effect in 2015.
The Ontario Police Services Act allows municipalities to create their own forces or partner on forces with adjoining municipalities.
South of Haliburton County which would see its OPP bill spike by more than $5 million next year the City of Kawartha Lakes has a municipal police force.
It looks after the town of Lindsay and the former Ops township.
The other 15 former municipalities that comprise the amalgamated City of Kawartha Lakes are serviced by the OPP.
Only the users of the municipal force – the residents of Lindsay and the former Ops township – pay for it.
“They pay substantially more” City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Ric McGee told the Times.
Currently City of Kawartha Lakes residents serviced by the OPP pay about $80 per every $100000 of property assessment.
Under the new OPP billing model they would pay approximately $123 for every $100000 of assessment.
The proposed model attempts to equalize OPP payments on a per household basis throughout the province with an estimated average per household fee of $369.
Lindsay residents pay approximately $285 per $100000 of assessment for the municipal force Ops residents $183.
The per household cost of the City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service for 2013 was $681.
McGee said the idea of expanding the municipal force was “completely out of the question in my opinion.”
McGee said that taxpayers are responsible for 64 per cent of the costs for the OPP while 34 comes directly from the province.
However the mayor who said his municipality feels the billing system that exists now is fair criticized the proposed model which would see its $6.2 million OPP bill increase by $3.5 million.
It would bring about a 4.5 tax increase in the municipality.
“The province needs to get off the backs of municipalities” McGee said adding this is another in a series of downloading of costs from the province to local governments.
He said the City of Kawartha Lakes has one of the lowest crime rates among jurisdictions serviced by the OPP.
What the city intends to do about the proposed model is an issue currently before its community policing advisory committee.
The District of Muskoka is investigating the idea of hiring a consultant to look at the pricing of a local force and county politicians will be discussing the possibility of joining such an effort in May.
The proposed formula would see the county’s collective OPP costs jump from $3.3 to $8.5 million equating to tax increases of between 20 and 36 per cent throughout its four lower-tier townships.