March 26, 2014 · 0 Comments
By James Matthews – Maintaining affordable and adequate police services may best be accomplished countywide, an Orangeville councillor suggests.
Councillor Jeremy Williams filed a notice of motion earlier this month with town council. It reads: That a Policing Strategies ad-hoc committee be formed to review the current delivery of municipal police services. The committee will be tasked to explore options to improve the delivery of police services and increase efficiencies, including moving toward a countywide police force.
Surrounding Dufferin municipalities are invited to be part of the committee that is hoped would be able to report back to the Orangeville council by the end of August.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some discussion to find some options,” Coun. Williams said.
The expense of maintaining the Orangeville Police Service became an issue early this year during council’s stabs at inking the town’s 2014 operating and capital budgets. The OPS was the budget’s greatest spending concern. Almost 20 per cent of the town’s budget is eaten up by policing costs.
Amidst attempts to pass a budget with as small a tax increase as possible, the notion was broached of scrapping the OPS in favour of a contract with the Ontario Provincial Police.
In a recorded vote, a motion to seek an OPP costing report passed 4-3 when council met in January. A costing report will detail what the provincial police force believe are the town’s policing needs and what the OPP will bill the municipality for those services.
“Clearly we see there is an issue,” said Coun. Williams. “If we ignore the pattern of spiralling increases, it’ll bankrupt us.”
Rather than fixate on the OPP option, he feels council should be open to all options. A countywide committee will avoid any kind of tunnel vision toward the OPP-only option. It’s also paramount to consider keeping the OPS, but improving any deficiencies.
The ad-hoc committee will consider whether the latest technology is adequately used to save tax dollars. And, he said, perhaps Orangeville and other county municipalities, many faced with similar budgetary strains, would benefit by forming a single Dufferin-wide police force.
Currently, each municipality looks after their own service needs, with the exception of certain arrangements to avail of Orangeville firefighting resources and a regional 911 dispatch service.
“If you form a committee and start looking at the issue, sometimes you see things in a way that you would not have,” he said. “You end up somewhere you otherwise would not have.”