Allocation and Billing of Police Services Costs in the District Municipality of Muskoka
In 2014 the province of Ontario proposed a new funding model for OPP costs based on a fixed cost per household (62%) and a variable cost related to calls for service (38%). LOBA wrote to the then Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqui arguing against this model which resulted in OPP costs in the District Municipality of Muskoka going from approximately $10 million to $15 million. Click here to see the letter. Notwithstanding, this model was passed and is now used to determine OPP costs in all 323 Ontario municipalities that use OPP for their police services.
On May 19, 2015 the District of Muskoka Council voted to allocate OPP costs in a different way, such that OPP costs that are calculated by the Province for our municipalities are not the costs Township residents pay. Rather, the costs of all municipalities (the three Towns and three Townships in the District) as calculated by the Province are aggregated by the District of Muskoka and then allocated according to the tax levy. The result is that the three Townships (Lake of Bays, Muskoka Lakes and Georgian Bay) pay substantially more for OPP services than they actually use (as calculated by the Province) and the three Towns (Hunstville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhust) pay less than they use. In the Township of Lake of Bays the cost of OPP servicing as calculated by the Province is approximately $1.2 million, but the amount that we are required to pay as charged by the District is approximately $1.8 million or 50% more than the actual cost. This adds approximately $20.85 per $100,000 assessment. This is not fair or appropriate and is inconsistent with the practice of virtually all of the 323 municipalities in the Province that use OPP services. At the time of this District OPP costing allocation decision, LOBA along with the Muskoka Lakes Association and the Georgian Bay Association wrote a letter to Council arguing against this allocation method. You can read the letter here.
Over the past couple of years, the Township Mayors and District Councillors have tried to work with their colleagues from the Towns on District Council to address this situation, but without result. On District Council, Township representatives have a minority of votes and the Town representatives do not support the efforts of the Townships on this issue, so those efforts have been easily defeated.
With no ability to address this situation at District Council, the Township Mayors have engaged a consultant/lobbyist to help them lobby the Provincial Government to redress this problem by making a minor change to the Police Services Act (PSA), which is being redrafted this autumn. They report good success in educating Ministers and senior policy staff of the problem and potential fixes, but have not been successful in convincing them of the need to make a change to the PSA. One of the reasons for this is that they have not heard from residents, but only the three Mayors.
To this end, LOBA has sent a letter to Premier Wynne and Minister Lalonde of Community Safety and Correctional Services – click here to read the letter. We have been advised that the Premier and Minister are influenced by letters from residents, particularly if there are a lot of them. Therefore we have also drafted a letter for you to use if you would also like to have your views heard – click here to get it. Feel free to use or modify the LOBA letter, or write your own, but please copy us on your letter at [email protected].