Vegreville Town Councillor Discusses Police Funding
Vegreville Town Councillor Marielle Brodziak holds the belief the Province should pay all policing costs and not pass on those costs to municipalities.
“The Province collects income tax to fund health and education costs, they can fund policing the same way. Every Albertan is entitled to this essential service,” stated Brodziak.
In fact, the Town of Vegreville pays more than municipalities with a population under 5,000.
During Coun. Brodziak’s report to council during the June 16 legislative committee, she said it would be “prudent” to share how dissatisfied they are with the current police funding model.
“Vegreville falls under the above 5,000 rule, which means we do pay, I feel it’s an exorbitant amount for our policing compared to municipalities that are 800 population less. If you fall under that 5,000 threshold the province pays for your policing costs and your infrastructure. So, I just feel it’s prudent to answer this and share how dissatisfied with the current police funding model.”
Those five questions Brodziak was referring to came in the form of an email request by Trina Jones, who is the (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, (AUMA), Director for Town’s East. She had requested answers to five questions and said she would be taking the answers back to the AUMA’s police advisory board.
“And again, I want to reiterate this is not about the level of service the police are providing, this is about the funding model that has been imposed on us by the Province,” said Coun. Brodziak.
The answers to those five questions are:
Do you currently pay for policing? How much?
According to Paul Casey, Corporate Services Director for the Town of Vegreville, “The RCMP contract budget for 2020 is $1,123,300; while our total policing budget for 2020 is $1,640,550.
What is the increase/decrease in cost under the new model?
Casey replied, “The policing costs are included in in the town’s annual operating budget, and as a result, the costs are incorporated in the town’s annual operating budget, and as a result, the costs are incorporated into the town’s annual tax levy.”
What is your satisfaction with your level of service? How would you like to see it changed?
“The Town of Vegreville contracts for nine full-time equivalent RCMP members, which includes one full-time School Resource Officer, (SRO). The town cancelled the SRO program, effective December 31, 2020, thereby reducing our full-time equivalent staffing requirement to eight members. The full-time equivalent is adequate for the municipality.”
How are you keeping your citizens informed about the costs and measures to pay it?
Casey said, designates a separate tax rate for policing costs in the Tax Rates Bylaw and on the Tax Notices sent to each ratepayer.”
Brodziak said the Town of Vegreville is responsible for policing costs, in addition to funding the new $6 million building for police operations for Vegreville and the surrounding area. She went on to say, “Vegreville receives a per capita grant to pay from the Province to fund partial expenses, and also receives rent from RCMP for the new facility. However, the funds received don’t cover the entire policing costs and the debenture payment on the building.”
The Town of Vegreville confirmed that the total cost of the detachment is just over $6 million and was financed with several debentures with a weighted average interest rate of 3.12 percent over 30 years. The annual cost of the debentures is $309,584.
At that June 16 meeting, Mayor Tim MacPhee said they’ve talked about the issue a few times with AUMA. As the majority of its member municipalities under a population of 5,000, MacPhee said those municipalities are in no big rush to pay more for policing. Because of that, he thought the issue would not gain much traction.
One of the AUMA’s 2020 Initiatives, includes police funding. According to information on the AUMA’s website, the initiative will include analysis and advocacy related to the implementation of the new police costing model; the Alberta Police Act Review, and the establishment of the Alberta Police Advisory Board.
AUMA is an advocacy group for urban municipalities. AUMA is the voice of urban municipalities and provides a variety of services and programs for its members.