Oliver preparing for RCMP costs

The Town of Oliver is eyeing ways to be prepared should the municipality take the brunt of municipal policing costs.

The Town of Oliver is eyeing ways to be prepared should the municipality take the brunt of municipal policing costs.

If the population of Oliver passes 5,000 the town will be responsible for 70 per cent of RCMP contract costs and 100 per cent of accommodation and support staff costs.

The 2011 census put Oliver’s population at 4,829.

Some advice learned from exploring the process in communities that have taken over municipal policing, like Peachland, was before council during the regular meeting on June 8.

“We’re taking all of this under advisement and we’re going to talk about it during our budget cycle this year,” Ron Hovanes, Mayor of Oliver said.

There were three options presented to council to explore further. The first being that council develop a policy outlining a strategy to fund an RCMP reserve account.

“At the same time you raise taxes, so taxpayers are getting more and more accustomed to paying a higher tax rate, so when they do get hit with that big bill they are already paying the majority of the taxes for previous years,” Hovanes said.

Hovanes said council is using the information to find some of the ways it can be proactive including looking at assets and police vehicles and what the town will be responsible for.

Another option presented included creating an RCMP operation reserve with annual contributions starting in 2016, set at five per cent of general municipal tax revenues. The third option explores setting up the same operation reserve, but with annual contributions set at $60,000, with the amount to increase by the percentage increase of the general municipal tax rate established by council.

“I think the biggest thing for council during the next budget cycle is do we start to raise taxes now?” Hovanes said.

The next census takes place in 2016 and the results will determine whether or not the town will enter into a Municipal Police Unit Agreement with the province. On top of possibly surpassing the population threshold, the 378-cell Okanagan Correctional Centre is expected to tax current police forces. There are some policing costs for which the municipality is 100 per cent responsible including costs for accommodations like the detachment building and cells for detaining persons and costs for civilian support staff and furniture are also paid entirely by the municipality.