OPP Bids to Provide Police Services for Midland

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Public Meeting Wednesday, February 8th at 6:00pm in Midland Council Chambers.
 
In just over a week, Midland will receive a formal bid from the OPP for policing our Town.  We will start with some facts since all too often when communities consider their policing options there is lots of noise but not many facts.
 
This month, AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario), provided a brief to the Ontario Government dealing with financial and other assistance municipalities need to manage such things as aging infrastructure and the cost of local services including the elephant in the room, police costs.
 
The following are portions of the AMO brief (full brief available here: AMOs 2017 Pre-Budget Submission – Whats Next Ontario 2017-01-16):
 

  1. “Ontarians pay the highest policing costs in the country. This includes both provincial and municipal expenditures. In 2014-2015, Ontarians spent $347 per capita on policing. It is at least $40 more than Albertans and Quebecers and, $58 more than British Columbians. Cost growth in Ontario shows no sign of slowing down. Since 2011, costs have increased by $2 per capita in British Columbia, by $5 per capita in Alberta and Quebec, and by $27 per capita here in Ontario. We continue to seek provincial action to “bend the cost curve” in Ontario”.
     
  2. “Interest arbitration is another big test. Here’s a number to illustrate that point: if fire and police had received the same increase that other municipal unions did between 2010 and 2014, it would have meant $485 million in savings to municipal governments”.
     
  3. “In his recent review of policing, Justice Stephen T. Goudge, Q.C. said, “Police services have been organized for an older reality. Police services must adapt if they are to improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which they deliver safety and security.” Here in Ontario, that adaptation must accelerate. It will take political leadership at the provincial level to achieve new legislation that delivers”.

 
This submission demonstrates an obvious province-wide challenge for sustainable policing.


 
At a more local level within Simcoe County, Barrie and Midland are #1 and #2 with the highest Policing costs per household (see chart). In fact the four highest cost places in the County are those with their own municipal police force. So while the OPP and the Province need to control costs, even more so do the four places at the top of the spending heap – Midland included.
 
Fact: Midland spends about 40% more for policing per household than neighbouring Penetanguishene. And this doesn’t factor in unbilled support the Town of Midland provides to Midland Police for a shared building and for administrative support such as accounting, finance, payroll, benefits administration, etc. We estimate these are in the $300- $400K range annually.
 
Fact: Owen Sound is also seeking an OPP costing. Owen Sound is a rather progressive Police force that now provides dispatch services to Midland. I say progressive because they saw an opportunity to create a ‘revenue model’ by providing cost-effective dispatching for other communities. But even with their creativity and knowledge that taxpayers can’t ‘foot the bill’ forever, they too are looking for less costly approaches.
 
Fact: Midland’s growth rate can’t sustain the costs for our current Policing model because we’re simply too small to support all the overhead costs needed for a stand-alone police service.
 
Midland is an island in a sea of neighbouring places served by the OPP. Our neighbours appear happy with their police service. And why wouldn’t they be when you look at costs per household for the professional police service they are receiving.
 
So here we are a few days away from receiving the OPP bid. The bid will go next to a Town committee with assistance from an independent consultant to ensure we’re comparing ‘apples to apples’. When that’s all fleshed out, then we can have an honest debate about what’s best for Midland, not just today, but looking out to future years too.
 
Last week Council attended a visioning session where the facilitator reminded Council, “it’s not about getting re-elected, it’s about doing the right thing.”
 
Council, this is a big decision. Don’t let yourselves be unduly influenced by vocal ‘insiders’ who enjoy the status-quo and have obvious conflicts on this subject. In fact many Midland Police officers would welcome an opportunity to join the OPP family while continuing to protect and serve the residents of Midland.
 
As always Council, remain focused on the big picture and on those you were elected to serve.
 
Roy Ellis on behalf of MidlandCommunity.ca
 

4 Comments on "OPP Bids to Provide Police Services for Midland"

  1. Peter DeCourcy | February 3, 2017 at 10:53 am | Reply

    90%of police budget is wages. 10% is for administration fees MPS pays rent on their building,hydro and electrical. This is all included in MPS budget. If they go OPP does this mean the administration staff upstairs will be cut. If it cost that much money for admin staff and OPP comes in than I guess your saying they will be laid off. Really Roy

  2. Thank you Peter for your e-mail.

    I believe I’m responding to a resident of Penetanguishene who is a retired Midland Police Sergeant. Are you also an outside agent for ‘Joe Midland’ who frequently refers to his ‘sources’ inside the Midland Police? Regardless my response will be the same.

    The OPP costing exercise is exactly that. To understand all costs associated with both policing models so the town can make an informed decision around where the best value resides. Costs for the current police model include any in-kind support being provided by the Town.

    We’re not sure what the value of in-kind services are because we can’t see them in the Police Budget and we are not sure if MPS gets charged anything at all for them. In your email you repeat something from Joe Midland and his ‘inside sources’ about MPS paying rent for its share of the building but the Police Budget shows no rent payments at all and less than $48,000 a year for utilities, cleaning and maintenance with $25,000 for hydro alone.

    Peter, no one is suggesting anyone will be laid off and please don’t make conclusions on our behalf. Maybe, just maybe staff have other important work to do and they simply can’t get it done because they don’t have the resources- time or money! We have suggested on numerous occasions that the model for Emergency services puts inordinate pressures on resources for every other department in the Town. We still share this view.

    I think in conclusion, you and others through this debate will help us all understand the true costs/benefits of the available options.

    Roy

  3. Four important points:

    1 – Apples-To-Apples Math

    Some of the math in the chart is not accurate, I checked Midland & Orillia, both are wrong…
    The 2015 net budget number for Midland Police Service is: $5,210,162.
    The 2015 net budget number for Orillia OPP is: $8,560,493.
    Here are the links:
    Midland – Page 38: http://www.police.midland.on.ca/files/2015-Annual-Report_0.pdf
    Orillia – Page 35A: http://www.orillia.ca/en/insidecityhall/resources/Treasury/2016-Annual-Budget-Book.pdf
    The correct math changes the spread between Midland & Orillia to an additional $59.23 per household per year.

    2 – Level of Service

    There is a significant difference in the level of service that the OPP is ‘selling’ to Midland compared with what we now enjoy with MPS. Right now MPS has 3 patrol cars/officers within the boundries of the Town of Midland; and as you would expect, their time of arrival, at your door, in case of an emergency is very quick. The OPP will also have active patrol cars/officers in the area, but not all within Midland. In fact some of those cars/officers could be 15 minutes from Midland. I don’t call the police in an emergency often (I fact I never have); however if I did, and it was something to do with my wife and 2 young kids at home, I want the police at my house ASAP. That alone is worth the added $59.23 per household per year.

    3 – Policing Control

    The Town of Midland, through our local Police Services Board currently has control over: hiring & firing, negotiations with MPS staff, setting our community policing priorities, setting policing policy, directing special functions through the Chief, and maintain a local presence. If we move forward with policing Midland via the OPP we lose control over these things.

    4 – Hidden Costs

    Nobody is discussing or factoring in the costs of the switch; the brass & redundant personnel would be handed their severance packages and this would easily be in the $1M range. This would be in addition to the capital upgrades/changes: re-brand all of the patrol cars, swap out all of the letterhead and all of the other MPS branded ‘paper’, reconfigure or even rebuild the actual police station, etc. These costs alone could amount to several million dollars; do we know who will be picking up these costs? If it’s the Town of Midland then the math above needs to be adjusted. Let’s say that the town needs to pick up the bill for these changes, and let’s assume that these costs are $2M, which I think is conservative at best… If we agree that the extra cost for MPS is $59.23 per household per year than that $2M of upfront capital costs would would actually nullify this spread for at minimum 5 years, if not longer.

    • Aaron, thank you for your note to midlandcommunity.ca.

      Item 1: The numbers you use appear to be budget numbers not actual spending and revenue as reported on the FIRs. Also in the case of Midland it appears to be information from the MPS not from the Town.

      The numbers we report are taken exactly from Financial Information Reports (FIRs) filed annually with the Province by both Orillia and Midland. The total gross spending the FIRs report for Police, Court Security and Prisoner Transportation are $8,666,063 for Orillia and $5,904,612 for Midland in 2015 (column 11 on Schedule 40). Revenues for these same items are reported on Schedule 12 and are $336,263 for Orillia and $407,211 for Midland.

      Item 2: Regarding level of service, we believe this is pure scare tactics based on faulty assumptions. One can dream up scenarios when response times with OPP could be slow but that is much more likely to happen with MPS than OPP. All it takes is one gun call at night to occupy Midland’s full staff compliment who are on duty at the time – the next call for service will get a delayed response (probably by the OPP being called in by Midland to assist). The OPP will have staffed headquarters on Highway 12 in Midland and a staffed satellite office where the MPS is currently located. So who is most likely to have nearby officers available to respond to a second emergency call in Midland?
      We understand, the vast majority of MPS staff do not live in Midland but do live in places policed by the OPP. They obviously do not feel their families are at risk when they are on duty in Midland. This reality should provide some comfort with the process.

      Item 3: The PSB has very little control over police operations. Further, the PSB will remain under an OPP contract to do most of the same things it can now do.

      Item 4: That is what the consultants are hired to do, get the real numbers including all the transition costs and savings.

      We are attaching the relevant FIRs so you can satisfy yourself regarding the facts.

      This indeed is the most important discussion Midlanders need to have.

      Cheers

      FIR Midland 2015
      FIR Orillia 2015

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