As a follow-up to my previous blog post I wanted to provide some additional facts for consideration, and provide a more in-depth look at the "cost per household" chart that is circulating in our community (see attached)
Firstly, I have always commended Council for entering the Costing process. I believe it was a good decision to investigate all options and this is the only way to do that. It is unfortunate that the process has been so delayed but we must roll with the punches.
Secondly, I maintain that the only information that matters is the comparative cost and service levels of OPP vs Midland Police Service, to police the Town of Midland.
The cost of Policing another community is irrelevant, because communities are very different. The OPP is going to quote Midland based on its needs and calls for Service only. Therefore, it is vital that we be patient and wait for that information before making any assumptions one way or the other.
It is important not to be distracted by other numbers as they may not be relevant or may omit information making them inaccurate for this purpose. The figures recently posted for "Police spending in Simcoe County" (see attached) indicate our budget is over 5.4 million and the cost per household is $706.
The chart was clearly not designed for the simple interpretation being applied to it and I have identified at least two problems with the figures.
- The figures are based on 2015 which was a transition year required to obtain long term savings. The 2016 budget was 2.7% less than 2015 and 2017 will drop by another 2.5%
- Second, this figure has left court costs in the Midland budget, but removed the government grant that partially covers the cost. As you may know, the Town of Midland must pay for court security regardless of who polices the town, so you must either remove the figure completely for comparison, or at least leave the partial offset grant in the budget. Some communities would not have a courthouse and would not be impacted.
Our budget for 2017 will be approximately 4,924,000 (including court costs and the partial offset grant). When using this figure, our cost per household drops to $632. This still seems high compared to Penetanguishene’s $498 per household. However, these figures are not a true cost per household because they ignore business taxes.
The real cost per household is lower for both communities
One of the reasons Midland is far more expensive to police than some communities are the calls for service generated by the many thriving businesses in our town. One big box store could generate 150 calls. However, these same businesses offset the cost of taxes per household.
I am told that Penetanguishene households pay 82.99% of the taxes, while Midland households only pay 70.18%, with businesses paying the rest. Applying these percentages would reduce Midlands 2017 cost per household to $443 and Penetanguishene’s 2015 number to $413. This would place our cost within 30 dollars per household.
Admittedly, Penetanguishene could lower their 2017 budget and there are some communities in the list like Midland with many businesses paying taxes.
The point is, you cannot use this simplistic cost per household chart that only analyzes one year in a vacuum, that ignores business taxes, that overlooks court security costs / grants, and that fails to recognize the significant differences between communities and their policing needs.
The only information that matters is the comparative cost and service levels of OPP vs Midland Police Service, to police the Town of Midland. Let’s be patient and let Council do their work.
Chief Mike Osborne
** If you have any questions about policing issues, feel free to use our "Ask The Chief" form on our website or call our office at any time.