Reid takes OPP billing fight to province
|By Sue Tiffin - Staff Writer | March 6, 2014
Reeve Barb Reid, alongside three other Haliburton County reeves, is continuing to represent the county in protest of the new OPP billing model proposed for 2015
“The whole thing is truly up in the air right now,” she said.
Reid updated members of Minden council on Feb. 27 about the outcome of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association/Ontario Good Roads Association conference in Toronto that was held from Feb. 23 to 26 and attended by Reid, Haliburton County warden Dave Burton, Dysart et al reeve Murray Fearrey, and Algonquin Highlands reeve Carol Moffatt, alongside 1,800 elected officials from around the province. She noted that the OPP billing model issue was prominent at the conference, and is one that affected many municipalities negatively, but that some would gain from the new model.
“It’s an interesting room because the winners and losers are sitting at the same table, and the winners are tasting it,” said Reid. “They think it’s a done deal.“
Reid said that Haliburton County was the first of many delegations to share their concerns about the new model with Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The Haliburton County delegation asked the minister to consider postponing the implementation of the new billing model beyond 2015 pending further analysis and conversation.
“She didn’t seem very flexible at that point, but I think 48 delegations later, she probably got the message that there are a lot of municipalities concerned,” said Reid.
She said that Haliburton County would be in talks with neighbouring communities including the City of Kawartha Lakes, the County of Peterborough, and Muskoka about a more efficient alternative to policing needs. If Haliburton County were to arrange an alternative policing system, the Haliburton OPP detachment would continue to be responsible for policing provincial highways and trans-jurisdictional needs at a cost that is not included in the new billing model and would be paid for by the province.
“It’s entirely possible that our municipality along with several others will be asked to participate financially in the engagement of a consultant to prepare a business model for an alternative system,” she said, noting that many people at the conference didn’t feel this was a viable alternative, but that it was important to prove that it wasn’t a viable option before disregarding the idea.
The proposed billing reform would “crush” the county, according to a fact sheet released by the county of Haliburton in February and distributed at the ROMA/OGRA conference. The fact sheet states that tax increases in each of the county’s four municipalities would range from 20–36 per cent and that this would result in the county paying an additional $5 million in taxes – from $3.3 million to $8.5 million – without service increases. The county would pay for 54 officers but be serviced by 29 officers.
“We think the underlying rationale behind this is flawed and that we need a broader conversation around what are municipalities being charged for, and how then do you make sure that every municipality is paying their fair share,” said Reid.
As the county representative on the OPP billing steering committee developed by the Association of Municipalities Ontario, Reid will present the findings of the committee to county council at the end of March or in early April.
Click here to see the county fact sheet.
Click here to see the AMO Policing Facts 101 fact sheet.
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander and holds the honour of being the only married reporter with a baby in the county. She returned to Minden after 16 years of Toronto and Seoul life, and is trying to relearn Canadian culture. Her dog, Jjigae, is a rare breed in Canada and tends to take up more space in the bed than is physically possible. Sue is fascinated by science and nutrition,and sometimes forgets that it’s not always a good idea to be honest.