SD&G to save $1.1M on 2016 O.P.P. contract

The United Counties building and Provincial Offences Act courthouse at 22 Pitt Street in Cornwall. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G/SOUTH DUNDAS – Homeowners in the United Counties will be paying less for policing next year.

The United Counties has be told the O.P.P. contract for 2016 will drop by roughly $1.1 million to $10.3 million (down from $11.4 million in 2015).

That will see the average household pay $351 for police service on their taxes compared to $387 this year.

But those savings are not sitting well with one South Dundas councillor. Bill Ewing, who runs a towing company, suggested crime will spike in urban areas of the county.

“They know how that if you don’t have any police working at night you’re vandals are going to get it. They’re out smashing stuff in the area…Halloween is coming up. It’s been quiet for years but how many officers are going to be working on Halloween night?,” Ewing said.

“It’s a mistake to go this route, we need the officers on patrol in SD&G,” the councillor said, “Wait until the winter and we start having accidents, the roads aren’t going to be cleared…you’ll wait for two maybe three hours to get a police car before you can clear an accident,” he said.

But County CAO Tim Simpson told Cornwall Newswatch the O.P.P. billing model is now based on calls for service.

“2016 is the first full year of a system based on call volumes. So 2016 is based a large part on 2015 calls. Because we are getting a reduction that means calls for service are decreasing. It doesn’t necessarily correspond to a reduction in the level of service,” Simpson said.

“I don’t think it’s fair to extrapolate from that the level of service is dropping. As far as I know it’s not,” the CAO said.

The provincial police force changed its billing model in early 2015 and SD&G received a rebate of roughly $900,000 in the spring.

Simpson said he couldn’t comment on Ewing’s assertions, referring those questions to SD&G O.P.P. Insp. B.J. MacDonald.

Whether taxpayers will see those savings remains to be seen as the county will be facing other financial challenges, such as a forecast drop of $575,000 in transfers from the province through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.

As for the policing concerns in South Dundas, council will ask SD&G O.P.P. Insp. B.J. MacDonald to come to council and explain the “lowdown” changes in the policing contract at an upcoming meeting.

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