To the Editor
Response to OPP billing equity By OPP Superintendent M.M. (Marc) Bedard
I would like to provide some clarification on this sensitive issue which affects the taxation of policing services within the County of Haliburton in a serious way.
The OPP is the existing policing service within the county and their capabilities are not the issue. This county has worked together with our detachment and the officers to have a better community relationship. The officers do an admirable job but can we continue to afford the OPP in the county? Maybe it is a time to possibly give some hard thought to our own police service. This can be done.
The superintendent states that Haliburton was “enjoying significantly lower than average policing costs in comparison to its other municipal counterparts in Ontario.” Really?
I find it quite odd that the existing provincial governing body let this “supposed underpayment” go on for such a long time. This does not make sense. After the provincial assessment was imposed the numbers are quite frightening.
The huge cost from $2.2 million in 2014 will be over $6.2 million in 2017 and the superintendent feels this is a fair increase? Would the superintendent be satisfied if his policing taxes were increased by these percentages? These costs are shared by all four municipalities within the county making these individual exaggerated payments.
Having been employed with the Toronto Police Service for 27 years I had first hand experience in the preparation of a $12 million budget for my unit.
The fact is the majority 90 per cent of any police budget is wages overtime and benefits. Calls for service and overtime are part of the formula. Note: (Police wage increases are usually increased by approximately two per cent per year.) The other 10 per cent of the budget is equipment (vehicles computers clothing etc). Any increases to the budget must be completely justified before being approved. Wages calls for service overtime or increased equipment costs have not increased by $4 million at the Haliburton detachment. It would be totally impossible for the tax governing body to reasonably explain such a huge increase. Property owners must start to really look at what may happen to this amount if the same provincial governing body is re-elected.
Using the “seasonal property” argument to raise taxes is ridiculous since these properties do not have year round access and no direct increase on patrolling costs! This is nothing more than another magical act of smoke and mirrors to increase taxes by the provincial government.
With respect to the AMO board having a member from the county this is true other than the fact the county member joined the AMO board after the vote was taken. I can’t see any county councillor agreeing to such large assessment changes without at least knowing the possible costs.
Our county councillors have worked hard and have been diligent to try to keep these costs down from the province. They have attended Queen’s Park and spoke to the minister in charge. The minister thought this amount was justified. They have also contacted the Ombudsman’s office to try and get a “fair” re-assessment to no avail so far.
I can’t see the current provincial government cutting any of those taxes considering their current spending mentality.
It is time that taxpayers of Haliburton call or write their MPP and inundate the governing provincial body with these concerns.
Finally I find it totally inappropriate that any OPP officer regardless of any rank comments directly to municipalities in an “open media” forum about taxation matters with their own personal points of view. This issue is not their place.
This is strictly a matter between the province and the municipalities or counties.
If the province has unfairly instructed the OPP to help justify the increases by these communicative methods that in itself speaks volumes of the current improper provincial mindset.
Thinking of the long term well-being of our Haliburton community.