Since the province signed a new 20-year contract with the RCMP, a recent announcement of a pay increase over the next three years has come as a shock to some municipalities.
But Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs said the news does not surprise him and he is hopeful potential savings identified by Justice Minister Shirley Bond could entirely offset the pay raises.
The deal contains a three-year wage clause that boosts Mounties’ salaries by 1.75 per cent on Jan.1, adds another 1.5 per cent increase next January and a further 2 per cent jump in 2014.
“We don’t know – when you take the increase and the ($195-million) savings – just where it’s all going to wash out,” said Bogs after a Trail council meeting Tuesday.
In the meantime, the city has planned accordingly under the new contract to cover costs for its 14 full-time members it employs and has actually reduced its budget this year. Trail has set aside $1.39 million, knocking approximately $19,000 from last year’s total.
“For some communities it’s a real concern and they’re definitely going to lead the way if there is any revolt,” said Bogs. “We’re not going to be leading the way because we’re super concerned about it but we’re not in a desperate situation.”
Municipalities with more than 15,000 people pay 90 per cent of policing costs, with the federal government paying the remainder. Smaller municipalities like Trail, with a capita between 5,000 and 15,000 people, pay 70 per cent of the cost while communities with fewer than 5,000 residents pay far less.
City administrator David Perehudoff said he was advised of a 3.8 per cent hit this year due to the new RCMP contract, an approximate $52,000 hike from last year’s $1.41 million contract. But the city managed to cut costs substantially by recognizing an average reduction in paid compliments due to extended leaves or vacancies.
“The city would have normally funded this directly through a property tax increase and also used the traffic fine revenue sharing to help offset these total costs,” he explained.
Trail has already approved and signed the new contract for RCMP services while other municipalities like Terrace are now holding off until municipal governments across the province get some answers about wages.
“To me that would be simply a political ploy because the way the agreement is set out you effectively have no choice unless you’re going to then look to provide service by some other means and the only means you can do at this point is to set up your own municipal police force,” said Perehudoff. “That would be more costly then contracting through the RCMP.”