As reported previously in the Bulletin, one of the big unknowns in the coming five year financial plan is RCMP contract costs.
The current RCMP contract expired in 2016 and wages have been frozen since that time. A new collective e agreement is being negotiated and will likely be presented to members this summer.
Currently the city has budgeted $994,973 for the 2021 RCMP contract, but as pointed out by Chief Financial Officer Jim Hendricks in a report to council, if, for example, the City is required to increase its RCMP contract budget amount by 15 per cent as a result of the outcome of collective bargaining, a property tax hike of approx. $1.4 per cent would be required to fund the $149,246 additional cost. If the increase is retroactive, a similar amount would be required for each of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 as well.
The city does have a reserve in place to cover unforeseen policing expenses, says Mayor Don McCormick. Those unforeseen expenses could include paying for the Major Crime Unit to come in the event of a serious crime. It could also be used for the expense of the new contract. Any surpluses found under the current contract go to that reserve.
The current balance of that reserve is $259,886.
“We probably have about one half of the worst case scenario,” he said. “Our police services are contracted and we have no control over the cost. So we have work to do to cover the balance.”