Thursday, July 25, 2024

Reader Response to New OPP Costing

Letter to the Editor

Mr. Editor,

This headline should come with a caveat: ‘creative math’ required.

The OPP billing statement for 2015 is $1,797,913. That is $44,184 lower than OSPS Option 1 (with a civilian school officer) and $131,859 less than OSPS Option 2 (with a uniformed school officer).

The community has shown a strong desire to ensure a uniformed presence in our schools and the merits of moving to a storefront police office from the current (municipally owned) police building have been argued at length. The $45,000 in projected savings is dubious at best. Has the suitable storefront, at $10,000 annually ($833 per month) including renovations and all other costs, been secured?

Savings ranging from $800,000 to $2.5 million over 5 years have been repeatedly touted over the last 10 months. In support of that conclusion a mid-August media release predicted OPP costs would dramatically spike by $455,650 in 2015. Local officers and their families were negatively impacted, public opinion was greatly influenced and council might have voted based on this ‘creative math’ had the matter not been delayed until the actual OPP numbers were known.

With a uniformed officer in the schools, a fully operational police building and approximately 25% added front line police staffing the cost is about $132,000 less by staying with the status quo. The losses, both economic and social, associated to removing Meaford jobs and families isn’t factored, nor is the potential pitfalls of entering into a new policing arrangement without a vote on the OS Police Services Board or lack of leverage concerning future costs once the initial contract has expired.

The lack of proper process, including the failure to incorporate a ‘Request for Proposal’, coupled with the stark difference between ‘predicted savings’ and the costs now evident should provoke questions about the way this was handled.

In closing I’d like share a copy of the first OPP policing contract in 2001 for $1,392,853 (click here for contract). It was obtained from the municipality. Also, contrary to media reports, we didn’t pay $2 million in 2013, or $2.2 million in 2014 for policing. Here is what we paid, according to documents found on Meaford’s own website:

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

$1,560,916

$1,672,118

$1,713,435

$1,658,858

$1,582,144*

*For 2015 billing purposes the OPP forecasted 2014 costs and accounted for recent costing trends and anticipated final cost adjustment.

Another revealing document is from the 2001 ‘Request for Proposal (RFP)’ which I also obtained from the municipality. It was drafted by the same consultant currently employed by Owen Sound. That ‘RFP’ stipulated a minimum of 12 front line officers (allowing for 2 per shift) and a dedicated supervisor (click to view copy). Since 2001 the total complement has actually been reduced slightly (14.01 to 13.33).

Should Meaford council decide to retain OPP policing, our costs will have risen from $1.392 million in 2001 to $1.797 in 2015. That’s about $400,000 dollars. During the same time frame municipal taxes have increased by approximately $6.9 million dollars (click here to see taxes). Policing costs have become the primary focus. You do the math on that one!

Respectfully,

Steven Starr, Meaford

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