Local resident calls out councillor over comments made at ‘OPS Night’

October 1, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Following his starring role during the Orangeville Police Service information night, held back on Sept. 9, local resident Noel Ramsay was back before Council this week, following up on what he feels was an “unfair” comment levelled against him during that tense night at Town Hall.

Going back to that evening, Orangeville Police Chief Wayne Kalinski, Deputy Chief Leah Gilfoy and Sgt. Dave McLagan were put under the spotlight as members of the community were afforded the opportunity to ask questions about the local force. 

While the majority of the questions on the night focused on the positive things OPS was doing in the community, Mr. Ramsay picked apart the financial documents presented on the night, commenting that some of the numbers brought forth by OPS do not match up with numbers presented in the municipality’s 2019 budget.

“It’s simple math,” Mr. Ramsay stated on several occasions back on Sept. 9, particularly when referencing inconsistencies in several line items in the budget presented by OPS. While neither Sgt. McLagan, nor Chief Kalinski, could answer Mr. Ramsay’s questions on the night, they promised to get back to him at a later date.

He would later go on to question Chief Kalinski about the high cost of policing in Orangeville, asking if the local force had looked at ways to bring down the price. 

“In our last tax bill, there was a footnote saying 23 percent of our municipal tax bill is for policing services. I did some calls to a few other municipalities. Generally speaking, they all came back in that their cost of policing is around 15 percent of their municipal taxes. I can’t get a percentage for all municipalities, and can’t get a cost for all municipalities (with their own police force), but I can for OPP. There are 290 municipalities in Ontario that (the OPP) cover. Their average cost is $359 per household,” Mr. Ramsay began. “My question is, using the (OPS expense budget) of $9.96 million, and that’s without revenue, the cost per household in Orangeville is $1,011. After revenue is applied, it comes down to $822. Have you ever looked at your costs and other police departments to find out why your costs are so much higher than theirs, because that’s what everyone is trying to figure out?”

Mr. Kalinski would reply that he would, again, have to consult with the Town’s treasury department before providing an appropriate answer. 

At the end of the night, Coun. Todd Taylor took to the podium, seemingly condemning some of the questions directed towards members of OPS upper management on the night.

“I think it’s unfair and inappropriate that these people have to answer some of the financial questions that have been brought forth this evening,” Coun. Taylor remarked. 

In his comments to Council on Monday, Mr. Ramsay felt Coun. Taylor’s comments crossed a line.

“In their presentations (OPS) stressed they were both financially accountable and transparent. I asked a number of questions, as I found not only their costs and revenue to be inaccurate based on their budget, but also math error in the presentation,” Mr. Ramsay stated. “My question tonight is, when top management are presenting their finances in a public presentation, how could public questions from a resident and taxpayer about this be referred to as unfair and inappropriate?”

Addressing Mr. Ramsay, Coun. Taylor brought up a conversation the pair had on the OPS information night on Sept. 9, whereby the local politician expressed his surprise that Mr. Ramsay took offence to his comments.

“I was not making my comment towards your comments. When we discussed this afterwards, I was surprised you had taken my comments that way. Instead, I was frustrated with the situation, as were some other residents, and I voiced that concern,” Coun. Taylor noted. “(Following) that meeting, I sought you out, I apologized and we had a nice conversation and shook hands. In my mind, the discussion, and that evening, is complete.”

Mr. Ramsay retorted that he feels any reference to questions levied by a local taxpayer being unfair or inappropriate was, itself, inappropriate.

“I believe any taxpayer in town is entitled to ask these questions,” Mr. Ramsay stated. 

Mayor Sandy Brown noted Council welcomes all community members to comment and ask questions in any municipal forum or meeting.

“I hope you continue to come and continue to ask these kind of questions,” Mayor Brown told Mr. Ramsay. 

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