OPP service could save millions in Wingham - Dec. 7, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) coverage in Wingham could result in significant long-term savings for Wingham ratepayers according to North Huron Chief Administrative Officer Dwayne Evans, however that is predicated on OPP costing only increasing two per cent per year.
In a report to North Huron Council during its Monday night meeting, Evans outlined how switching to the OPP in Wingham would result in savings in that ward after six years of service. However that was based on current pricing and a maximum two per cent Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase annually.
As Evans pointed out at the end of the presentation, however, that estimate may not reflect the actual OPP cost in three years when a transitional contract between the OPP and North Huron would end.
When taking into account all expenses, including one-time costs for retiring the Wingham Police Service and outfitting additional OPP officers to cover the area, the next 10 years of police service in Wingham is forecast to cost, according to Evans, $10,463,270 under the OPP or $12,597,256 under the current Wingham Police Service. The savings, which total $2,133,986, are based on existing costs increasing two per cent annually under either service and a new $20,000 capital reserve being created for the Wingham Police Service.
Council members pointed out, however, that OPP costing has never decreased and has increased substantially in past years and could do the same between now and the end of the transitional contract that council is considering. This could result in the township losing its police service and paying more money in the long term.
Working with a five-year average for costing, Evans stated that the current Wingham Police Service costs each property in Wingham $768 while the OPP would cost Wingham ratepayers $727. Evans also priced out expanding the Wingham Police Service to cover East Wawanosh and Blyth, which would lower Wingham properties’ costs to $659 but double Blyth and East Wawanosh cost for police services from $339.66 per year now to $659 annually.
The increased coverage area would require hiring more police staff, said Evans, and more equipment which was reflected in the $659 pricing.
Councillor Yolanda Ritesma-Teeninga pointed out, however, that while Blyth and East Wawanosh’s costs would double, the service experienced in Blyth and East Wawanosh, if it was the same as Wingham’s current service, would be an improvement over its current coverage from the OPP.
Council received Evans’ report and plans to have the OPP return to its next council meeting on Dec. 18 to present information regarding pricing and follow that up with a public meeting in the new year that would, according to Evans, include a chance for public feedback.