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New OPP billing model to decrease Red Lake policing costs

The new Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) billing model will decrease policing costs for the municipality of Red Lake over the next five years.

The new formula, created for municipalities which rely on the OPP for policing services, was unveiled by Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi in an Aug. 14 press teleconference.

The billing model does not address the overall cost of policing, but it does attempt to distribute the expenses more evenly among Ontario municipalities.

The initial proposal had been to split OPP bills based 73 per cent on fixed, basic services and 27 per cent on per call service; however, the formula announced by Naqvi consisted of 60 per cent base cost and 40 per cent stemming from calls.

Fixed basic services, such as routine patrols, crime prevention, and RIDE programs, amount to an average cost of $203 a year per property. The total average per property under the new billing model is estimated to be $355, though Red Lake policing costs are projected to still be above the provincial average.

“I can unequivocally state that August 14 was one of the happiest days of my political career,” says Red Lake mayor Phil Vinet, who was invited two years ago to be a member of the provincial panel looking at the fairness and transparency of the OPP billing model. Vinet has been working to reduce policing costs in the municipality since 2006.

The former billing system for OPP services was developed 17 years ago and resulted in some municipalities subsidizing others. From 1999 to 2013, Red Lake police costs increased by 90 per cent—from $636.36 per household to approximately $1,100 per household.

The previous billing formula relied heavily on calls for service to calculate costs, resulting in a wide variation between similar communities.

The new formula will come into effect on Jan. 1 with the increases phased in over five years at a maximum rise of $40 per year, per property and decreases ranging from $18 per property in year one to $96 per property in year five of the phase-in.

Of the 323 municipalities served by the OPP, 207 will experience an increase in their bills under this new model while the remaining 116 will see a decrease in their policing costs.

The exact figures for policing costs in the municipality of Red Lake will be released mid-September.

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