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Editor,

What follows is an Open Letter to Meaford Staff and Council regarding Policing Costs:

Background

In a "News Release" published in the Meaford Independent on August 18, Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman asserted that the billing for OPP police services would rise from the current $1,772,053 by $455,647 to $2,277,000 next year. At that time, the details of the new billing model were not known to the general public. The precise details were released in a presentation to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) on Monday 18th. Once the details were reviewed, we saw that Mr Chapman had made an assumption and his calculations, we believe, are incorrect. We arrive at the overall cost increase of $17,839 as calculated below. To date, Mr Chapman has not issued a correction to his calculation of the OPP cost increase, therefore we feel compelled to challenge his numbers.

Billing Model

Up until 2014 the basis of OPP costs was expressed in $$ per Household. In the new billing model there are two components: (i) a fixed cost per Property, and (ii) a variable cost based on numerous factors such as calls for service. Province-wide averages anticipate (i) is 60% and (ii) is 40% of the total bill. The latter will vary by municipality. Mr Chapman's numbers are based on 6,600 Properties and a stated $208 per Property.

Billing Calculations Based on AMO Presentation

Meaford has 5,623 households, which includes farm Households. In regards to farmlands without a dwelling, it is important to note that the AMO presentation specifically excludes them from the Property count. Province-wide, the number of properties of a business / commercial nature is about 5% of Households, yielding an estimated 5,904 Properties (281 more than Households) in Meaford.

The AMO presentation states the rate as $203 per Property. Thus the fixed part of Meafords’ cost is $1,198,542 and the variable part is $799,028 for a total of $1,997,571.

Change in Costs

The change in costs from this year to next can now be estimated, but firstly we must introduce the term "OPP rebate". This is an amount of money that the OPP has paid back to the Municipality in years past. How much this will be can not be known until the completion of the first year under the new billing model. So in order to make a comparison, we will calculate excluding any present or anticipated rebate. Meafords’ estimated un-rebated number is $1,979,732. Thus the anticipated increase is $17,839 per annum. To further support this number, there is a slide in the AMO presentation that indicates that in the Grey County area, the new billing model will result in a change of plus or minus $25 per Household, which translates to an increase or decrease of $140,060 per annum for Meaford.

Council Responsibilities

Mr Chapman stated that the OPP cost increase is $455,647; the increase based on the details presented at AMO is $17,839. We are not claiming that any of these numbers are certain but we are saying that as and when a decision is made by council it must be based on the official 2015 estimates from the OPP, which they expect to deliver in October. Also council authorized hiring a consultant to examine Meafords’ policing options. His report is due on 8th September. Furthermore, because a new council and mayor are about to be elected and will be held responsible for the policing contract over the next 5 years, we strongly assert that staff and the present council must make no commitments whatsoever regarding policing contracts..

We hope this sheds light and a more comprehensive understanding of the anticipated change in costs of OPP policing for Meaford in 2015. To the general public: come to the public meeting at the Meaford Hall at 6.30pm on 10th September to hear the consultants report and ask questions.

Note: as of the printing of this article the OPP have yet to announce the specific Municipality Cost Structures for Grey and Bruce Counties.

Submitted on behalf of Meaford Chamber of Commerce and the Meaford Area Community Association (MACA),

Shirley Keaveney and Mike Osborn.


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