More evidence and reasons to be leery that an OPP contract in place of a standalone police service could ever save Midland money. In an article in the Kingston Whig Standard, it is reported that “Rural politicians in eastern Ontario had a chance to express their frustration about policing costs with policy-makers.
At a recent meeting in Calabogie, members of the Rural Mayors’ Forum of Eastern Ontario (RMFEO) met with representatives from the OPP municipal policing bureau, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA).
The rural mayors are seeking ways to slow the rapidly rising policing costs.
“It was actually received quite well, they understood our frustration,” said Ron Higgins, mayor of North Frontenac Township. “They understood it was hard for us to compare their apples to our oranges.”
The RMFEO estimated that its 14 member townships already in 2016 have spent $232,000 more than they should have on policing.
The added costs are over and above the phase-in of new policing costs and had to be paid for with existing tax revenue.
“Between 14 municipalities, we are losing out on almost a quarter-million dollars that we can’t recover because of the way properties are counted,” Higgins said.
Provincewide, Higgins estimates the 323 OPP-patrolled municipalities could pay $5 million more than they should this year.
The OPP determines policing costs according to information it receives from MPAC about properties in a municipality. OPP costs are determined by a base service cost calculated by the MPAC’s count of the number of properties in a municipality and the number of calls for service in a municipality.
Higgins said an analysis of MPAC assessments by RMFEO showed discrepancies between the growth in property counts provided by MPAC to the OPP and the new growth they could identify in their municipalities.
“What [MPAC] provide the police services bureau is the number of units on a property. What they provide the township is the assessment on the residences on that property,” Higgins said. “You could have five, six units on one property, but we can only recover the costs in taxation on one residence.”
Cell towers, solar farms, pipelines, wind turbines and billboards that fall into the industrial or commercial assessment category are all counted as individual properties for the OPP, according the RMFEO.”