The Mayor has gone on the record in local media and on the Town of Midland’s website telling us that the reason behind the OPP costing request is simply about comparing costs. “Policing costs account for a significant part of the Town’s annual budget,” said Mayor Gord McKay. Last year, Policing represented 27.5% of the municipal budget, the largest share of any department. McKay adds, “The proportional growth of this number is also of concern to Council, as just five years ago the police budget represented only 16-18% of the annual budget.” The last part of this statement seems true. The 27.5% claim is not.
Normally, the community has little choice but to take our town officials at face value and to believe the numbers provided by our Mayor and his staff. The costing request could easily be justified by such proportional growth, assuming that it is factual. But what happens when we find they have not been truthful?
Our sources have provided us with the town’s own tax filings (FIR) where the truth is revealed about the costs of each department for the past few years. It also clearly shows that policing is NOT the largest share of any department and that there is no evidence to support their wild claims that policing accounted for 27.5% of the budget.
We look at the net policing costs (after grants and other revenues are used to offset the budget) at 15.2% in 2013, 15.8% in 2014 and then spike to 18.1% in 2015. We asked our sources inside Midland Police to explain the spike – and it was due to the outsourcing of police dispatch to Owen Sound. Severance had to be paid and Council would have known this since they were the cause of this change by denying funding to the police services board. It is convenient that both the Mayor and MidlandCommunity.ca both dwell on the 2015 budget year when that was an outlier due to the human resources expenses that come with terminating employees. The budget came in lower yet again in 2016 and 2017 yet no word of that is uttered about that to support the financial efforts put into place by our police chief.
Even at the 18.1% it is nowhere near the 27.5% continually quoted by the Mayor and MidlandCommunity.ca.
Recreation, Transportation and Environment Services all seem to ring in higher than policing yet we see our Mayor claiming that the police expenses represent the largest share of departmental spending? It may be time for some new batteries for his calculator?
Is the mayor behind this campaign of false facts or is he simply a gullible victim of someone else’s spin? How can there be such a disconnect between their accounting department and the elected officials?
Effectively, the Mayor, the town of Midland and MidlandCommunity.ca (connected to the town in many, many ways) have been misleading us about the costs of policing. The agendas we’ve been watching for two years now are becoming clear. The revelations about the “shadow cabinet” formed by MidlandCommunity’s Roy Ellis are equally troubling when we see the Mayor and his community group echoing the same false numbers and assertions as the rationale behind ridding ourselves of our community police service.
Review this document (below) and form your own conclusions. Perhaps it is time that the Mayor explain why he is content to keep relying on and referencing false data. Who provided him with the false data? We have learned that the police service actually protested about the false data to the Mayor and the CAO – and that they admitted that the data was wrong but refused to take it offline or provide any clarification to the community. They preferred to leave it online and avoid the embarrassment of being caught being wrong or the accusations that they were misleading us all to drive the OPP costing process.
Well, unfortunately for them, we got our hands on the facts and now call on them to explain themselves.
1. When did they become aware that their numbers and assertions were false?
2. Why have they taken no steps to correct the numbers or assertions publicly?
3. Do they plan on providing the true costs to the OPP costing committee so that the process can be fair and based on facts?
4. If their claims are actually truthful, then why did they falsify their financial returns to the province?
This Mayor and council just keep on letting us down. Surely there must be some honour in some of our elected officials? Will any of them stand up for the truth and get to the bottom of this?
Time will tell. We wonder if our local media will look into this and press town hall for answers.
Review Midland’s submissions to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (2013-2015) Financial Information Returns