By Lindsey Kuglin
Brockton is preparing early for contract negotiations with the Ontario Provincial Police, for when the current contract expires in mid-October.
Council decided Monday night to strike a committee to negotiate with the OPP and to facilitate public meetings.
“We want to receive public input as to what they want for their level of service,” Coun. Chris Peabody, who sits on the Police Services Board, said after Monday’s council meeting.
Peabody said there’s no question that the cost is going to go up, and the PSB has already recommended that council start putting away money in the 2013 budget for the 2014 increase. However, costs are frozen until Dec. 31.
He also said the contract doesn’t leave much wiggle room for negotiations. There are three options for council, Peabody said; the first being to have no Police Services Board and then to move to a fee for service model, where the muncipality would have to pay to bring in special units in the case of an emergency, murder investigation, or helicopters for missing persons for example.
“That would get pretty costly. It’s a risk,” Peabody said.
Another option would be to remain at the status quo – and absorb the cost increase.
The third option is the status quo, but without the school officer.
“It’s one of the only parts of the budget we can control,” Peabody said.
The school officer spends time in both high schools in Walkerton, maintaining a visibility and building relationships between students and police.
The detachment receives a $30,000 grant to suppliment the officer’s position. However, Police Services Board Chair Charlie Reidl said it costs about $120,000 for a full-time officer, leaving the municipality on the hook for $90,000.
Reidl said that other municipalities benefit from the officer’s services as well, since students from Durham, Hanover, South Bruce, and Mount Forest are bused in to Sacred Heart, but none have expressed interest in contributing. School Boards have also been approached for funding, but both the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board and the Bluewater District School Board have denied Brockton’s request for funding.
“We have to way the costs and the benefits,” Peabody said.
The negotiating committee will consist of members of council, and will begin “soon.”
Brockton Council are in deliberations for the 2013 budget yesterday and today (Jan. 15-16) to try and chip away at tax increases.
Mayor David Inglis said Monday they were still sitting at six per cent, which he called “unacceptable.” He said they are aiming for one to two per cent.
“We have some room to work, but it’s going to be difficult,” Inglis said.
The budget is expected to be passed by the beginning of February.