Cranbrook city council got the chance to hear from the RCMP and their municipal contracting procedures, as two civilian administrators appeared before municipal representatives at a regular meeting on Monday.
Autumn Longley, Senior Financial Manager, Contract Policing, and Syvia Poon, Acting Financial Manager, Municipal Policing, provided information on policing salaries, costs and budgeting processes to Mayor Lee Pratt and city council.
While many communities across the province and the country have their own municipal police force, smaller towns are policed by the RCMP on a contract basis.
RCMP policing in communities are supervised by a provincial and national committee with representatives from large and small communities that cover a variety of policing concerns and priorities.
In Cranbrook, policing costs are broken down as 90 per cent paid by the municipality and 10 per cent by the federal government. That ratio applies for communities with a population of 15,000 and up, while cities with a population between 5,000 and 14,999 have a 70/30 per cent funding ratio.
The budget is currently forecasted at $4.4 million this year, with $4.07 million spent to date.
Under the cost share agreement, municipalities are required to provide accommodation (office space and garage space to RCMP standards), support staff, prisoner facilities and office furnishings.
“There are some items in the agreement that are not subject to the cost-share, so they are paid 100 per cent by the municipality,” said Poon. “That includes accommodations — your detachment building, administrative staff, prisoner facilities.
“There are also items that are not charged to municipalities and those include legal fees, compensation claims and relocation fees. Whenever we’re moving members around, we’re not charging your municipality.”
Five year plans are prepared for May, and released 12 months prior to the next operational year. Municipalities are invoiced based on cost estimations and then reconciled with actual costs at the end of the fiscal year. Municipalities are kept in the loop with monthly reports on what has been spent to-date and year-end forecasts.
Poon broke down how the cost structure works.
Salaries account for for 70 per cent of direct costs, as the Cranbrook is staffed with 26 RCMP members. — one staff sergeant, two sergeants, six corporals and 17 constables. Those direct costs include pay, allowances, overtime, information technology, training, vehicles and equipment.
Salaries range from the bottom end of $53,100 for constables to the top end of $112,000 for staff sergeants.
The last agreement for an RCMP pay structure expired in 2014, however, a new pay package announced last April included retroactive increases, which were not included in the budget. Moving forward, the police are estimating a 2.5 per cent pay increase in budget planning
Pension contributions account for much of the indirect costs, but employer contribution rates were lowered from 22.7 per cent to 19.07 per cent, which will go into effect in 2018.
Both Poon and Longley said that there could be changes moving ahead given that it looks like the RCMP will be forming a union through Bill C-7, which is set to become law.
Following the presentation, queries from mayor and council focused on costs and infrastructure, particularly the detachment building in the downtown area.
RCMP facilities are reviewed regularly by staff, however, it’s on a priority basis, said S/Sgt. Hector Lee.
“Right now, as far as the priority for new buildings, we are not high up,” he said. “But it’s up to the city what they want to do. If the city wants to go with a new building in the near future, then it’s up to me to facilitate that conversation with headquarters to bring in the provincial minds, the federal minds.”