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Police cost-sharing gets expensive (again)

Posted on April 11, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cal Braid
Vauxhall Advance
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

At an April 2 regular meeting of council, town officials had to grapple with the steadily climbing price of the police cost-sharing agreement with the provincial government. 

In early February, Cris Burns, chief administrative officer for the Town of Vauxhall, received a letter and invoice from Alberta’s acting assistant deputy minister regarding the arrangement. The town’s total share was listed at $70,209. The number was calculated based on a 2022 population estimate of 1,434 from the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance. The town received an ‘equalized assessment’ of over $98 million for 2024, which is an annual calculation that measures the wealth of a municipality and determines its ability to pay a portion of its policing costs. The equalized assessment per capita was listed at $68,426. Other minor calculations determined the total. 

The deputy minister said that the program will generate over $67 million that will be reinvested into policing initiatives in Alberta.

The Town’s administration attached a powerpoint presentation of the Policing Funding Model (PFM) to the agenda for councillors to review. It also drew attention to the increasing costs of participation since Vauxhall became regulated by the PFM in 2021. In 2021, the Town paid $21,006. In 2022, it contributed $31,529. In 2023, it paid $47,102, and now this year it owes $70,209.

As is the case with non-negotiable invoices that continue to increase dramatically, questions arise. Mayor Kim Cawley offered her take on the latest hike, saying, “As far as the policing costs go, we were quite surprised to see the jump in policing costs from 2021 to 2024. Our CFO is working these new numbers into our budget and we will see the implications from that once he presents it again for approval, but obviously it’s an additional burden for taxpayers.”

“We appreciate our local RCMP and the work they’ve been doing to keep the community safe. Our council agreed that the RCMP is still the best option for us, and would still likely be more cost effective than bringing in other policing options to Vauxhall,” she expanded. “That being said, we’re disappointed to see both RCMP houses in Vauxhall being vacated, and learning that we will no longer have officers living in town.”

“We do have an opportunity usually once per month to have open dialogue at our council meetings with the RCMP, and are able to bring forward our concerns as well as priorities to them. We look forward to continuing working together with them to keep Vauxhall safe, and encourage our residents to report anything suspicious or any safety issues and concerns directly to the RCMP detachment in Taber. The more they know, the better they can serve us.”

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