All we have to do is sit down and open the online news for Simcoe County to read story after story about soaring costs of OPP contract policing and yet Midland seems blindly determined to follow their neighbours into contract policing quagmire… In this latest article from the Orillia Today, Frank Matys reports that Ramara residents are faced with a staggering 10% tax rate increase in 2016, primarily as the result of a 20% increase in the costs of OPP.
In his article he writes, “A hike of more than 10 per cent is being attributed to surging policing costs and a need to refill severely depleted reserves.
“We want to try to get back up in the good, so that we can avoid huge increases at a later date, too,” treasurer Carol James told Simcoe.com. “Get all the debt behind us and get back in a really good position.”
OPP costs for the rural municipality are up by more than 20 percent, said James.
“That is a big part of it,” she added. “But we did need to get some money into the reserves also.”
Reserves are built up to ensure money is available for costly purchases including equipment replacement.
“We do have a reserve for policing, also, but (policing costs) went up a lot more than was in there to stabilize it,” James added.
Further placing pressure on the township’s anemic reserves is a remaining debt from the installation of sanitary sewers in Brechin and Lagoon City several years ago.
“That was a huge expense,” James said. “We are still paying back the cost of borrowing.”
The council of the day approved sewers in the hope of attracting new investment and promoting growth.
“It just hasn’t come yet,” James added. “Hopefully, within the next couple of years things will start to pick up a bit.”
The coming hike was unwelcome news for resident Laurie Paxton.
“I am not impressed in the least bit,” Paxton told Simcoe.com.
While supporting investments in policing, the area woman said the sharp tax increase comes at a particularly challenging time as residents affected by flooding are hit with repair bills and lost time at work.
“I am not just saying this for myself,” she added. “I’m sure a lot of other homeowners will feel the same or agree.”
According to James, Ramara Township’s tax rates have remained “fairly low on the scale” when compared with municipalities such as the City of Kawartha Lakes and Brock Township.
“That won’t be that way this year,” she added. “Even the City of Kawartha Lakes went up 12 per cent.”
James joined the township about a month ago and assisted council with prioritizing the budget.
“I think that they were hoping that it was a little bit better than it was,” she added. “I’m not sure it was a surprise.”
You can read the story here: http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/6482176-stiff-tax-hike-in-ramara/
Tonight is the first publicly accessible meeting of the OPP Costing Adhoc Committee at town council chambers, 6PM. On the agenda are presentations from the OPP about the costing process as well as a staff report on the process.