OPP costing update: February 13/2017
A special meeting of Midland Council was held at 6:00pm, Wednesday February 8th to receive a proposal from the OPP to provide policing in Midland. The meeting was for Councilors and members of the public to receive the proposal from senior OPP staff, as part of what Mayor McKay said is the start of a thorough, open and transparent process.
Before we get into the specifics of the OPP bid, it should be noted that one Midland Police staff member had a different agenda. At approximately 5:45pm, roughly 15 minutes before the meeting was called to order, Bill Gordon, the Information Technology Manager for the Midland Police entered the Council Chamber and began distributing a document entitled “Public Safety Comparison Checklist” to all members of the public present at the time. He then proceeded to deposit the remainder of the “propaganda” as he called it, at the door beside copies of the meeting agenda, giving new arrivals the impression that his document was part of the evening’s official presentation.
This orchestrated and self-serving act undermined the spirit of this meeting and the positive partnership between the MPS and the OPP who work in tandem for the benefit of the citizens of Midland. The OPP were invited guests into our house, and on behalf of all Midland residents, we apologize for this ‘lack of class’. More specifics later about the confidential and ‘insider’ information he circulated that night.
THE OPP BID:
The OPP bid received at Wednesday’s meeting results from a provincially mandated bid protocol that is different from the OPP’s permanent billing model. This three-year “transitional” contract bases the OPP prices to the Town of Midland on the historical record of calls for service generated by the Midland Police Service. After the three-year transition phase the OPP permanent billing model takes effect.
The permanent billing model allocates costs based both on call volumes and on the number of properties served independent of call volumes. This reduces costs for places like Midland with high call volumes by basing part of the charges billed to low volume municipalities on number of properties being served.
Based on the nature and number of calls for service, the OPP bid presently includes 28 uniform officers allocated to serve Midland residents. The number of uniform officers will be reduced to 26 if the Police Chief and Police Inspector elect not to transition to the OPP which in turn reduces the OPP bid by over $319,000 (see bottom of page 5 here:) http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/Midland%20OPP%20Contract%20Proposal%20-%20FINAL.pdf
If the Chief and Inspector actually transition to the OPP, the annual bill for 2017 (excluding one-time capital costs) will be $5,186,000 before court security grant revenue. The 2016 approved Midland Police Operating budget is $5,324,000 before court security grant revenue. And if the Chief and Inspector elect to retire or move on, the OPP bill will reduce to $4,866,000.
The foregoing only gives us a sense of ballpark numbers. A number of other factors and required adjustments will need to be analyzed by a group of impartial, independent professionals including outside consultants and Midland’s CAO and CFO. These folks can help us understand not just ‘apples-to-apples’ costs but also compare service levels and overall capacity to meet our policing needs.
Until that analysis is complete none of us can make bold, conclusive statements about their impact. The analysis should help determine the best choice for the people of Midland over the long haul, looking out 8, 10, or 15 years from now. You see, while some Council members might focus on today or perhaps the next election in 20 months, we are concerned about long-term integrity, sound economics and, most importantly, the well being of our kids and grandkids.
To be sure there are details to be understood and properly assessed on both sides of the ledger – such as the value of Town services not billed to MPS (payroll, accounting, audit etc.) as well as the cost to maintain a Police Services Board and the police building on Second Street.
A few more quick observations about the OPP’s permanent billing model and what we expect it could mean for Midland once the three-year transitional contract is complete. The OPP publishes what it charges the various municipalities it polices. For a complete review please click on this link:
This actual data helps forecast what Midland would likely be charged under the permanent billing model for 8300 properties (residential & commercial) billed at the same 2017 rates that apply to these similar nearby communities.
- Wasaga Beach – $3.04 Million (before grants with 12,860 properties)
- Collingwood – $3.44 Million (before grants with 12,063 properties)
- Orillia – $4.54 Million (before grants with 14,776 properties)
Obviously no two places are identical but it is reasonable to expect Midland will fall somewhere in the range of $3.0 Million – $4.5 Million.
In the meantime while under a transition contract, Midland will have either two or four additional patrol officers assigned to our community. That surely cannot be a bad thing. But it does raise the question, are we currently underserviced or said differently, are the men and women who have our backs, over-stretched?
So the high-level numbers are in. We should now all wait for experts to do what none of us can do – a full, careful, detailed analysis of costs and service levels. We deserve no less for an important decision like this.
In the meantime for anyone seeking additional information, the entire OPP presentation along with the background material is posted on the Town of Midland website.
Before we sign off, there is a matter of conduct and the release of confidential information, which requires further examination.
Mr. Gordon’s “propaganda” revealed information specific to the 2017 MPS draft budget, which we believe is not only still confidential but also not yet approved. The same document also asserts an obligation to pay severance costs to MPS employees amounting “(+/-) $3 Million”. Somebody named ‘Joe Midland’ claims that the source of the information about severance costs is MPS Chief Mike Osborne. This is information that only ‘insiders’ could pretend to speak knowledgeably about.
One part of the OPP’s very professional presentation Wednesday night made it very clear that the OPP is obligated to offer positions to all current MPS uniform officers who meet OPP standards and to civilian staff who qualify for vacant or new positions.
Someone owes the entire community an apology for why and how this happened.
Thank you to Council for having the courage to initiate and debate this important matter. Now let the facts guide you to the right conclusion.
A group of dedicated residents on behalf of midlandcommunity.ca