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Budget makes for rural policing crunch

Posted on December 5, 2019 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance

Fallout from the United Conservative budget has been spread across the province but one concern that hasn’t concluded as of yet is policing costs.

With future budgets supposed to bring an answer, municipalities with a population under 5,000 are bracing for a large additional cost to their budgets.

“Best case scenario, under $10,000, medium case scenario is $30,000 and the worst-case scenario is $50,000,” explained CAO Cris Burns at the Nov. 5 town council meeting. “It doesn’t show us a cost model for a small town so we couldn’t figure out. We just went by the examples that they gave.”

No firm guide has been released as of yet but towns and municipalities have started to make estimates as to how much policing costs may affect their bottom line.

“We just have to keep watching for the information to come down and advocating for what we need. AUMA, when they started this whole process, they came to council a couple of years ago about the policing model and we were surprised by that because small communities and our budget, we don’t have a lot to play with. A big bill like this, it has to come from somewhere,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree.“Everything is taxes and we are trying to be responsible with what we have. Their approach was everyone pays so counties, M.D.s and everyone else is paying to get better services and more employees in the region. If you want more, there is usually a price tag to that.”

Further councillors echoed the annoyance with the lack of guidance the provincial government has provided to the municipalities that will be affected.

“The thing I find a bit frustrating is they are not giving us any positive sense of direction where they want to go with this. They have all of these scenarios floating out there but no recommendation as to what they are proposing the legislature do about it,” added Coun. Ray Coad.

The biggest concern for Vauxhall town council was where the additional money to pay for their policing would originate.

“Where is this money supposed to come from? How much are we going to have to raise taxes?” asked Plumtree.

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