The Alberta Government may be asking smaller communities to pay more for policing.
Currently, communities in Alberta with populations of less than 5,000 are not responsible for paying for police. Last month a government document hinted at possible changes, and municipalities are digesting how it might affect their community. Mayor of Carbon Bryan Peever is concerned.
“They are still trying to figure out if that is actually going to happen and what the percentage is going to be. I heard at a Mayors and Reeves meeting in Red Deer and they were talking about 2- 4 per cent surcharge on your annual budget, so that would be a bit of a hit. But they were also talking about 30 per cent or even higher. One figure I saw was a $78,000 hit to Carbon for policing.”
He is also concerned about the level of service.
“The bitter pill with that is all they are trying to do is cost-sharing. Any community above 5,000 pays for policing. We have never had to do that directly, although we pay for policing through our taxes obviously, but we are going to end up paying with absolutely no increase in service.”
“We may be paying for something other people have paid for, for us, for years, and now we are going to have to start paying for it and we aren’t going to see anything more from it.”
Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer responded in an opinion piece in September saying the government is committed to safe communities.
“To be clear: our goal is more police services. If any new funding model that would collect funds from more municipalities is chosen, any funds collected would be reinvested in frontline policing and would lead to an overall increase in funding for police services in Alberta. It would lead to more police funding, not less,” stated Schweitzer.
Starland Reeve Steve Wannstrom says they have looked at some initial numbers and it could be in the range of $100,000 for the County.
He adds this comes without any guarantees of the amount of time spent by police in the community or resources.
The Drumheller RCMP has an urban detachment and municipal detachment. Drumheller CAO Darryl Drohomerski is not sure how changes to funding will affect the local service.
“The RCMP has offered to do funding model scenarios. They will give us three options on what it may cost. We have asked them for that and we should get this back this month, so we will have a better idea of what it is going to cost,” he said.
He said currently Drumheller is responsible for about 70 per cent of the cost of the Drumheller detachment, with the remaining coming from funding for the rural communities. The Town of Drumheller also provides two staff members, and their work supports both detachments, rural and municipal. He says, for example, Drumheller staff will provide services such as background checks for residents of other communities.