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Willow Creek MD learns cost of policing

Maryanne Sandberg

The MD of Willow Creek will pay a portion of policing starting in 2020 at a rate of just about $140,000.
That will increase over the next four years until it reaches more than $419,000 per year.
At its Dec. 11 meeting, council reviewed a news release from the provincial government and correspondence from the Rural Municipalities of Alberta saying that $286-million will be injected into frontline law enforcement for additional RCMP officer and civilian positions over five years.
Chief administrative officer Derrick Krizsan told council this has been a fluid process.
The initial discussion was that these funds paid by municipalities for policing who previously paid nothing for policing, would go into general revenue with the provincial government.
That position then shifted to the funds going to all policing costs evenly.
Now the funds will be directed to additional policing.
At a meeting in Edmonton, Krizsan said the indication was there would be no changes until 2021. Now, municipalities who had not paid for policing will start in 2020.
“It has been very fluid,” Krizsan said. “It’s been very hard to keep up with what their current policy is.”
In 2020 municipalities will be responsible for 10 per cent of the costs and will escalate to 15 per cent in 2021, 20 per cent in 2022 and 30 per cent in 2023. At this time there is no indication that costs will continue to escalate.
The police service costs will be determined on the basis of 50 per cent equalized assessment and 50 per cent population with a modifier described as a Crime Severity Index that will take into account areas that require higher levels of policing.
The budget impact for the MD of Willow Creek is as follows:
• 2020 – $139,653.
• 2021 – $209,630.
• 2022 – $279,307.
• 2023 – $419,260.
• 2024 – $419,260.
Krizsan said he was not sure how the municipal district would be invoiced for this cost. One possibility is a policing cost mill rate.
Reeve Maryanne Sandberg asked if these figures included Granum, if it becomes part of the MD of Willow Creek.
Krizsan responded Granum would be an additional $7,000.
Coun. John Van Driesten asked if this funding meant more front line police officers in the municipal district.
Krizsan replied he heard there will be 500 additional police positions, half officers and half civilian support such as intelligence, forensic and canine services.
“We put out this money, what is the guarantee of more boots on the ground?” Sandberg asked, adding the cost is tolerable if there are more boots on the ground.
Krizsan said if municipalities are paying for policing, there should be added accountability.
Also, if there are for example, six members on paper, there are six members on the ground.
There are detachments with seven members on paper but, due to leaves, there may only be four or five actual police on the job.
Krizsan said this will raise more consciousness of what goes on in the detachments.
He also pointed out who started this process.
“That was AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) that opened up this can of worms,” Krizsan said. “The AUMA in the end has received no benefit.”
Coun. Glen Alm said that by the fourth year, when adding up the cost to the MD of Willow Creek and each town within it, they will be paying a total of about $1-million.
Krizsan said if the MD of Willow Creek has a special mill rate for policing, ratepayers will see what they are paying right on their tax notice.

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