With tomorrow night’s (Wednesday April 13th @ 6PM) first publicly accessible meeting about the OPP costing process for Midland Police, and since we are following this issue closely along with the proposed sale/merger of the MPUC, we continue to bring Midland news about how the process is working or has worked in other similar municipalities.
It an article published today (April 12th 2016) on Lake88.1 News, we learn that Smiths Falls has abandoned the costing process, Hanna Lang-Chenier writes:
Smiths Falls council shot down moving forward with an OPP costing at its committee meeting Monday night, with those against the pricing saying there are too many unknowns in the final cost.
But Councillors in favour of getting a costing argued the town won’t have any cost to compare its current service with unless they get the estimate.
Mayor Shawn Pankow was among those in favour of proceeding the costing, along with councillors John Maloney and Joe Gallipeau.
Pankow says he says he doesn’t understand the reluctance from council to at find out what the cost would be. “Personally I think it’s disappointing because at least we would have had something to compare with.”
“We know the policing isn’t exactly the same, but the OPP does a good job where they police, our police service does a good job here, it would be nice to have something to compare to,” added the Mayor.
Pankow also told Lake 88 news, that it wouldn’t have been that long a wait to get the information. “We would have heard from them in July, we could have waited until that point before we had to make a decision.”
The mayor also sounds as if he is not ready to fight for the move just now. He said, “So as it stands right now, I guess we will not have an OPP costing, certainly not in this term of council, and it may be awhile before another council considers it.”
Council originally agreed to look into the costing in July, after concerns the town’s force is too expensive. At $4.7 million per year, it accounts for 30 per cent of the town’s budget.
Councillors who voted down the costing were concerned there is too much uncertainty in the final rate the town would pay in the long run, because the OPP calculates its final billing rates three years after the town has made the switch.
Councillor Chris Cummings, who also sits as a council representative on the police services board, brought forward the motion to kill the costing, which was supported by Councillors Lorraine Allen, Jay Brennan, and Dawn Quinn.
Cummings told Lake 88 the unknowns were just too much to deal with. “So that just didn’t sit well with me, with that new information. I thought it was a waste of the community’s time, of our staffing time, and the OPP time. Because at the end of it, I didn’t think we should make a decision based on a number we’re not going to know for three years.”
The Councillor added, “One of the challenges that other communities have had is they can’t go backwards. If you’re not happy with the OPP or it gets too expensive later on, you’ve got no option. You’ve got to stick with it.”
One thing council did agree on was to proceed with a feasibility study that will find out if expanding the Smiths Falls force to surrounding municipalities is possible. A number of neighbours have expressed interest in the idea, and the preliminary study will cost about $15,000 to establish whether the expansion can be done cost effectively, and result in lower fees than an OPP service.