| Jan 17, 2008

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Feature Article - January 17 2008 Policing costs to go up over 15% in South Frontenac by Jeff Green

At a Committee of the Whole meeting in Sydenham on Jan 15, OPP Sergent Sue Stevens-Baker, a specialist in contract policing, presented the results of a process through which she has taken the South Frontenac Police Services Board over the past couple of months, to members of South Frontenac Council.

A five-year contract will commence on April 1 of this year, and in order for the police force to continue to provide the provincial minimum standard of service to residents of South Frontenac over that term, the policing complement will have to be increased from 15.62 full-time equivalent officers to 17.50 full-time equivalent officers.

This increase came about partially because the workload of the detachment has increased and another officer needs to be hired. As well, in the soon to expire contract, the township paid for only 40% of Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Gary Ouellete’s time.

“This was a mistake that was made in the 2003 contract,” said Sgt. Stevens-Baker, “the township should have been paying 54% of his time, and in the new contract will be paying for 58% of his time.”

The province pays a percentage of the costs of running the Frontenac OPP based on the policing the detachment provides on Highway 401 and for other provincial responsibilities.

The increase in staffing will result in a 14% increase in cost to South Frontenac, and a change in the funding formula will add another 4.23% increase.

“In some sense people will say we are imposing the contract on you,” Sgt. Stevens-Baher said, “but this is what is needed to meet the standards that are required.”

“So what you are saying is, we have no control,” said Councilor Ron Vandewal.

There is one discretionary aspect to the budget, and that is the community officer position, which is a role that was created at the request of the township in 2002. It costs $52,000 annually for the part time position, and eliminating it would reduce the increase in policing costs for the township to about 16.5% from 18.2%.

“My proposal is to keep that position,” said Staff Sergeant Gary Oullette. “The council wanted that position, initially. Our officers work shifts, so we cannot provide a consistent face to the community, which the position ensures”.

Ron Sleeth and Wayne Hirok, who are citizen members of the Policing Services Board, both said they thought the position should be cut in order to save money.

“Nothing against George,” said Wayne Hirok in reference to George Hiles, who is the current community policing officer, “but we felt that we’ve already paid for this service. George has been doing a good job but we felt that the police should be doing it. It’s a five-year contract, so the position costs $250,000.”

“I think it’s important,” Ouellete reiterated, “but I understand it is council’s only option to cut costs”.

Whichever way council goes, policing costs will exceed $2.1 million per year in South Frontenac under the new contract, up from about $1.8 million.

The final decision will be made at council next Tuesday January 22.

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