An item in the last Parry Sound Council agenda package, Item 9.5.1, provided considerable background information concerning past and future Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) costs. I would like to thank the Town for making this type of information easily accessible to the Public. While the Town may be obligated to do so, it’s also easy to hide this type of information, especially with the Town’s current website design.

Any review of OPP costs requires at least two posts, three would be better, to be properly presented. This post looks at historical costs and what’s budgeted for 2015. The second post will look at ‘crime in the city’, or where the OPP are spending their time (and our money). The third will compare ‘crime’ in Parry Sound with that of our neighbouring municipalities. If you can’t wait for the next two installments you can retrieve the Council package for the November 4th meeting at the Town’s website (it’s the one labelled 2014 11 04-AD2014).

Let’s get started.

Much has been made of the Province’s decision to rework the cost of OPP services in the province. There had been concerns that the previous allocation of OPP expenses did not fairly apportion costs to the municipalities on the basis of basic services and usage. In response a two-component system was developed and approved. Under this new system municipalities that require policing services will be charged a) a flat per Household/Business (H/B) cost, and b) a cost that is based on the actual OPP services provided in that community (Calls for Service).

For 2015 the standard provincial cost per Household/Business (H/B) rate will be $200.51. For Parry Sound that translates into a cost of $661,081, which is calculated by adding up all of the residences and businesses in town (3,297) and multiplying that number by $200.51.

But wait, that’s not all, we still have to add in the cost of “Calls for Service” and some additional items.

Based on Calls for Service over the years 2010 through 2013, it is estimated that Parry Sound will be charged an additional $302.25 per H/B. Multiply that by the number of households and businesses in Parry Sound and you have an additional bill for $996,505.

But wait that’s not all. (It’s starting to look a bit like a cable or phone bill where the extras seem to pop up out of nowhere.)

There is also the additional cost of “Court Security”. This is for the District Court that serves all of the West Parry Sound District. It may be a district court, but we get to pay for it, all of it. Not only do we have a government building taking up prime real estate but also we pay to ‘protect it’. Add in another $208,953 to our OPP bill for that charge. But wait, the Province does provide us with a grant to offset some of the cost, about $47,000. So ‘hosting’ the provincial court only costs us $161,953, or about $49 per household per year. (This $49 per H/B figure, for the purpose of comparison, is a little less than half what our surrounding municipalities previously paid per household/business annually for all of their OPP services. Yes, all of them, about $100 per H/B per year. It’s possible the Province might address this ‘injustice’ related to the Provincial Court House, but so far it’s our expense.

But wait, that’s not all.

Add another $86,055 to the Town of Parry Sound bill for OPP related Overtime, Prisoner Transportation, Accommodation and Cleaning Services.

In total we will be paying $1,952,597 for OPP services in 2015 versus an estimated $2,092,900 for 2014, a savings of about $140,000, or $42.56 per H/B. That’s about $592.23 per household/business. Not too bad, even with the addition of the Provincial Court costs.

But wait. You didn’t think we would really save that much did you?

The savings of about $42.56 per H/B is too high; we are not allowed to save more than $30.00 per H/B in 2015. So this means that our cost for 2015 will be $1,994,007, or about $605 per household/business. Compare this with the $100 per H/B that our neighbouring municipalities have been paying for the past few years. Of course their policing costs will rise to the defined average of $200.51 per H/B in 2015, plus their Calls for Service.

But wait.

No they won’t, their Base Services rates won’t rise more than $40 in 2015, to about $140. They will also get hit with their Calls for Service charge. What this adds up to in total I’m not sure, but there will be limits to the increase they will be facing in 2015.

The table below summarizes the figures presented above. More details can be found in the November 4th Council package. To make things easier I have extracted the pages related to this issue, Item 9.5.1, which can be accessed here.

An interesting aside noted in the Council package is the observation that Parry Sound has about 2.6 times the calls for service of Seguin Township. A ‘lawless’ little town we have here? Was Wyatt Earp this expensive? We’ll take a look at what the ‘crime’ numbers are in the next post.

One last thought – the projected OPP savings of $140,000 might not actually be realized, and it’s possible the costs to Parry Sound for policing might actually go up. That because the Town has in the past received general OMPF funding to offset some of the costs that the Province has downloaded to the Town over the years, a portion of which was used to offset the unreasonably high OPP costs. But we won’t know about this for a few more weeks. It will be an important element in the Parry Sound 2015 budget deliberations.