OPP introducing new billing model for...
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Aug 14, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

OPP introducing new billing model for municipalities

The Ontario Provincial Police says it is introducing a fairer billing system for cash-strapped municipalities but one cottage country politician says increased policing costs are disastrous for summer residents


The Ontario Provincial Police says it is introducing a fairer billing system for cash-strapped municipalities but one cottage country politician says increased policing costs are anything but fair for summer residents.

“We have people, who have worked hard for their hopes and dreams of having a cottage, who will probably end up losing their cottage over this,” Haliburton County warden Dave Burton, told the Star Thursday adding he expected his county’s annual policing bill to jump to $6.5 million annually from $3.3 million at the end of five years.

Details of the new billing practices released earlier Thursday are in reaction to bitter complaints from many of the 324 municipalities, which rely on OPP coverage, that policing costs are crippling them.

Instead of charging municipalities based entirely on call volumes, there will be a base charge of $203 per property for all municipalities plus additional costs for responding to call, roughly a 60-40 breakdown.

The new model, effective Jan. 1, 2015, replaces one that had not been updated in 17 years and for the first time commercial and industrial properties will be factored into the billing.

“The new model will provide a fairer, more transparent cost recovery process by ensuring that all municipalities pay their fair share of the base cost of policing,” OPP Inspector Bert McDonald, OPP Municipal Policing Unit, told reporters.

Burton said he’s not buying it.

“I am disappointed . . . because the minister didn’t take into consideration the seasonal population. They are only here about a quarter of the time . . . I think that is a bit unfair,” he said.

“I know a lot of people will say, ‘Well they can afford two homes so they can afford to pay,’ but a lot of these people who have a cottage and maybe a home in Toronto or wherever it may be have worked their asses off (to afford a cottage),” he said.

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi said the new billing model is a “more fair, equitable and transparent billing model’ compared to the current model based on a cost recovery system “where some communities pay less than $10 per year per house household and other similar municipalities pay over $800 per year.”

“The (current) billing process is complex, difficult to administer and does not provide municipalities with information they need to have some control over policing costs . . . and that was not fair to those municipalities,” he said, noting the provincial auditor general in 2012 branded the billing model as unfair.

The minister noted the average per property cost for provincial police services in 2015 is estimated to be $355, compared to an average of $787 for self-policed municipalities.

Tory MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Essex) said the Liberal government “clearly issued this at the eleventh hour, before the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference” that starts Monday in London, Ont.

“They claim it will be more transparent. But the Liberals have left out crucial details on how much this new model will actually cost municipalities,” he said in a statement.

Helping fuel the debate was the 8.5 per cent pay-hike for 6,300 OPP officers, making them the highest paid in the province. The catch-up follows two years of no increases. McDonald confirmed that any future wage increases will be factored into the per property billing.

While Naqvi spelled out the details of the new billing practices, he refused to reveal what the financial impact will be on individual communities.

Under the new billing system, to be phased in over five years, 207 municipalities will see an increase of about $100 per property and 115 will see a decrease of about $75. Two remain the same.

There will be $40 per property cap on increases per year for those municipalities facing increases, while the decrease will start at $18 for year one and gradually get to $96 over the five years.

Pat Vinini, executive-director of AMO, said policing costs have been a “pretty emotional issue” and will likely continue to be for those communities facing increases.

“My sense is the ones facing increases won’t think it’s so good, but the other ones who will see decreases will think it’s OK,” she said.

Naqvi explained that base costs include routine patrols, crime prevention activities, ride program and local detachment and that will make up 60 per cent of the bill “and all municipalities will pay the same amount per property to cover the base cost” and in additional will pay for calls for service, such as responding to a motor vehicle accident or other incidents, which will make up the remaining 40 per cent of the bill.

Toronto Star

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