By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
A breakdown of the Town of Coaldale’s operational expenses shows policing is the largest operational expense for the municipality.
For 2023, RCMP costs are estimated at $2,170,510. After subtracting the $420,000 in revenues, the net total requires $1,751,010 in tax-supported funding to be paid by the Town for the service.
Chief Financial Officer for the Town of Coaldale Kyle Beauchamp said during the Nov. 15 special budget meeting, “a year ago, they were finalizing the collective agreement with the federal government,” noting the feds negotiated entirely with the RCMP, “without the feedback or consultation from stakeholders or municipalities who ultimately pay the bill.”
Beauchamp said, “when we did the budget last year, we thought we had an idea of how much those numbers were going up. Those numbers were finalized after we approved the budget last year, (and) actual numbers came in much, higher than expected.”
Coaldale is an anomaly in the RCMP cost-sharing model in that the Town pays 100 per cent of policing costs, while other municipalities of the same size are afforded a 70/30 per cent cost-sharing agreement with the federal government.
There are currently nine established RCMP positions in Coaldale. The cost to the Town of Coaldale, per officer in 2020 was $163,000. By 2023, the cost per officer will increase to $203,000, and jump again to $218,000 for 2024 and 2025. With no definitive idea of how this cost might increase after 2025, the Town’s current contract with the RCMP does not expire until 2032.
Rectifying the issue and working towards the standard 70/30 cost-sharing model has been a slow, multi-year process, but remains a priority for Mayor Jack Van Rijn and council.
“We are setting up meetings with newly appointed cabinet ministers for January. The meetings will help the ministers understand our situation and get them up to speed on our talks with the federal counterparts,” said Van Rijn.