Small governments are about to pay

All municipalities in Alberta are going to pay for policing services. And the cost is not going to be cheap for many! Please see expanded story on southpeacenews.com.

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Municipalities across the region will begin paying for policing under a new police costing model announced by the provincial government on Dec. 4.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer announced 300 more police officers and 200 more support staff will be hired at a cost of $286 million over the next five years.

Rural residents raised concerns about increased crime in their communities at multiple town halls organized by the UCP government and through a survey. The Schweitzer says putting more boots on the ground will help address the problem of crime and improve response times in rural areas.

“This is truly a partnership where we’ve listened to Albertans,” Schweitzer told the House on Dec. 4.

“We’ve listened to the rural municipalities to find a new path forward that is sustainable.”

Until now rural communities with populations of under 5,000 have not paid for policing. As more police and support staff are hired, municipalities will now be expected to pay to raise an extra $200 million in policing costs by 2024.

The provincial government and federal government split costs under the Provincial Police Service Agreement [PPSA], with the province chipping in 30 per cent and the federal government 70 per cent. The new contributions from rural municipalities will mean an increase of $86 million in federal spending on the RCMP in Alberta under the PPSA.

“Communities will contribute 10 per cent of policing costs in 2020, followed by 15 per cent in 2021, 20 per cent in 2022 and 30 per cent in 2023,” says a news release from the provincial government.

Each municipality’s cost requirement is based on a formula that weighs equalized assessment at 50 per cent and population at 50 per cent. The formula also includes modifiers for shadow populations, crime severity, how far a municipality is to a local RCMP detachment, and existing enhanced policing positions.

“This is going to be very tough for everyone and is one more download from the province which we all have to try and fit in somewhere,” says Theresa Van Oort, CAO of the County of Northern Lights.

The M.D. of Peace will also begin to contribute to costs under the new plan [see chart].

“Council does understand the need for all municipalities to pay some portion of policing costs, but if it does not result in increased police staffing or reduced crime, it will just look like a tax grab,” says CAO Barb Johnson.

“It does not seem fair that, once again, municipalities are forced to collect a provincial government expense through property taxes, rather than the province collecting the money themselves,” Johnson says.

Northern Sunrise Reeve Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba says council will look at final numbers and whether the county needs to raise taxes before completing their budget in 2020.

“Our hope and goal is that we don’t have to change them,” she says.

Kolebaba says the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association [AUMA] wanted the changes.

“AUMA is the one that pushed hard to have this transition take place that all municipalities in the province pay policing,” says Kolebaba.

The Rural Municipalities Association [RMA] and its members have meanwhile raised concerns with the proposed model, despite some changes to the model after consultations, saying it will have major budgetary impacts.

Municipal Impacts of Police Funding Model
The Future Cost of Policing

Following is a list of selected municipalities in Northern Alberta, and what it will cost them for policing in the next five years starting in 2020:

Municipality Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4-5

MacKenzie County $36,348 $105,784 $247,305 $531,567
Big Lakes County $188,802 $123,062 $57,604 $73,876
Birch Hills County $36,119 $54,217 $72,238 $108,434
Clear Hills County $89,005 $133,603 $178,009 $267,205
County of Northern Lights $109,705 $164,676 $219,411 $329,352
M.D. of Greenview $168,074 $412,636 $656,148 $1,145,271
M.D. of Lesser Slave River $105,820 $158,844 $211,640 $317,687
M.D. of Peace $38,304 $54,497 $76,607 $114,994
M.D. of Smoky River $52,619 $78,985 $105,237 $157,969
Northern Sunrise County $115,727 $173,715 $231,455 $347,431
Town of Fairview $57,864 $86,858 $115,727 $173,715
Town of Falher $18,556 $27,854 $37,112 $55,708
Town of Grimshaw $52,340 $78,567 $104,680 $157,133
Town of High Prairie $47,832 $71,799 $95,663 $143,598
Town of Manning $22,833 $34,275 $45,667 $68,550
Town of McLennan $13,735 $20,617 $27,470 $41,235
Town of Swan Hills $24,870 $37,331 $49,740 $74,663
Town of Valleyview $34,239 $51,396 $68,478 $102,791
Village of Donnelly $5,813 $8,725 $11,626 $17,451
Village of Girouxville $4,770 $7,160 $9,540 $14,320
Village of Nampa $7,174 $10,768 $14,347 $21,537

Editor’s note: In this forumla, the Town of High Prairie was not recognized for the enhanced policing costs [they credited the total to Big Lakes county]. There will be an adjustment made.

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