Emergency services in unsustainable trend: CFO

The entrance to the Cornwall city council chambers. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The city’s finance department is pointing out a grave trend when it comes to funding emergency services in Cornwall.

During the city’s fifth budget meeting Friday morning, CFO Maureen Adams pointed to a 10-year financial map showing the cost of funding police, fire and EMS has risen 83 per cent from 2003 to 2014.

During the same period, the rest of the city departments as a whole went up 19 per cent.

CFO Maureen Adams says the “fairly significant trend” is not sustainable and with the city growing over that time other departments that theoretically had to do more with less.

Adams adds that, in five years of the 10 year history, the increases to emergency services outweighed the proposed increase in the collection of tax dollars (tax levy), which meant other city departments had to make sacrifices.

“It was the reality during that time period,” she said.

Coun. Andre Rivette said he would like to see a breakdown of police, fire and EMS shares. “I think some people would be very surprised.”

The budget committee passed the motion for more information.

“We can not hide from this problem. We have to recognize that we have a serious issue. No matter how you look at it we have a serious problem. Getting other charts and graphs…no we have to deal with the issue,” Coun. Mark MacDonald said.

“Given a commitment to sustainability we made in a previous council, clearly the solution is not at this table. This is a province-wide problem,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald said.

“This is not about taking on the police or taking on the fire department. This is about our survival,” Coun. MacDonald said.

Coun. Claude McIntosh says the police department had made a number of concessions over previous years.

“There’s a pain in my stomach,” a concerned Coun. Brock Frost said, noting he didn’t know where cuts could be made.

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