This past week at their Committee of the Whole meeting, Kimberley Council heard a presentation from the RCMP Director of Finance Max Xiao.
It was a really helpful meeting with plenty of good information, says City CAO Scott Sommerville.
Because Kimberley’s population is over 5,000, the city must pay for 70 per cent of policing costs, which amounts to about $1 million per year, about four per cent of the city’s overall budget.
“With more than 5,000 people, you pay for police,” Sommerville said. “Creston has just gone through that and Fernie is about to. If you have over 15,000 people you pay 90 per cent of policing costs. We have a few decades before we have to worry about that.”
The city provides the building and pays for two full time equivalent (FTE) administrative staff, and for eight municipal officers.
“The officer number fluctuates,” Sommerville said. “It’s never fully staffed. It’s usually about six and a half to seven FTE. We also provide the office and the upkeep on it.”
As far as the budget going forward, there doesn’t appear to be any substantial cost increases the city needs to worry about, although they were advised that there is an unresolved wage dispute going on.
“They estimate there will be a wage increase of about 2.5 per cent,” he said. “And that would include retroactive payment that will go back a couple of years.”
That money will come out of a reserve the city set up several years ago because the RCMP budget does fluctuate with staffing and other issues, such as a different fiscal year.
“The reserve does help so we are not caught unaware when we get our quarterly invoices.”
A few years ago, there was considerable discussion at Kimberley Council about the current detachment building and the cells. Council of the day decided to contract prisoner costs out to Cranbrook rather than renovate the cells.
“We pay Cranbrook a certain percentage and it does seem to work out pretty well,” Sommerville said. “We have a really low crime rate. If we constantly had people in cells it may be worth it to have them in Kimberley, but for now it makes sense to contract it out. It’s what most smaller communities do, if they are close enough to a larger centre.”
Overall, the presentation was good information to help Council and staff understand the RCMP contract, but there are no surprises.
“It’s business as usual,” Sommerville said.