The long awaited revamped OPP cost estimate for Meaford was submitted to the municipality last week, and details were released by the municipality on Tuesday afternoon. The new pricing is just $820 per year more than the Owen Sound Police Services proposal.
According to the estimate provided by the OPP to Meaford, and subsequently issued to the media, the total anticipated policing costs for 2015 of $1.79 million, plus the municipal cost of $55,000 for the operation and maintenance of the detachment space Meaford provides to the OPP, for a total expected cost of $1.84 million.
By comparison, the proposal from the Owen Sound Police Service carried a cost of $1.83 million, plus $10,000 for the provision of a storefront office space, for a total expected cost of $1.84 million.
The expected costings for the OPP mean that the OSPS proposal is just $820 below the new costing for the OPP.
The new OPP billing model is now based on the number of properties in a municipality, Meaford's per household cost provided by the OPP would be $307 per household, per year.
Before they had received the revised OPP costing, Meaford council opted to hire a consultant to help decide on the best policing options for the municipality. The consultant cost Meaford approximately $27,000, and their final conclusion in a report submitted to council on September 8, was that Meaford should choose based on the lowest price, as they determined that either police service would provide adequate and effective policing for Meaford.
Not all councillors agreed. Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield said that the lowest cost recommendation raised red flags for him, while Councillor Mike Poetker expressed concern about factors other than lowest cost that could have a significant impact on the community.
“Zeroing in on your statement that any decision we make be based on the lowest cost, I'm going to challenge that,” Poetker said to Rudy Gheysen of Asymmetric Consulting. “I suggest that it should be based on the greatest economic benefit, and the socio-economic benefit that we're not talking about.”
Poetker reminded his fellow councillors that should Meaford opt to switch police services, roughly 10 OPP officers who currently live in the municipality would likely be relocated, taking their incomes, and their taxes, and their buying power out of the community, while Owen Sound officers who would begin and end their shifts in Owen Sound are unlikely to relocate to Meaford.
“I think that's very important in our small town. It's a huge potential for loss of income in this community when you suddenly take out a large percentage of good wage earners,” offered Poetker.
The consultants had suggested in their report to council, which was prepared a month before the OPP costings were issued, that Meaford could save between $200,000 and $1.3 million over four years by switching police services, a savings of between $50,000 to $325,000 per year, though they conceded that it was difficult to estimate OPP costing as Meaford wouldn't receive a formal costing until late September at the earliest.
The new estimate from the OPP would mean that Meaford would save less than $4,000 over four years by switching to the Owen Sound Police Service.