The Town of Slave Lake is looking at an extra expense of around $400,000 in retroactive RCMP pay raises.
It could result in a tax increase, a cut in services, or some combination of those two things.
The RCMP pay hike came about after years of negotiations between the union that represents RCMP members and the federal government.
These negotiations, council heard at its April 11 meeting, went on without any consultation or involvement by the affected municipalities, from coast to coast. The agreement resulted in a hefty pay raise, with municipalities on the hook not only for higher salary costs going forward, but going back several years to where the previous agreement ran out.
Lobby efforts to get a break for municipalities on this big additional cost went nowhere, and the word recently came down from the feds: pay up.
Responding, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is encouraging its members to pass a motion demanding that in future, municipalities are consulted. A multi-clause motion was suggested by the FCM, which council passed. It begins:
“Whereas these extraordinary, one-time costs, which in some jurisdictions amount to millions of dollars, will cause significant hardship for communities and residents, and were negotiated without meaningful consultation or a seat at the table for the municipalities responsible for paying the bill…..,” and ends with:
“Resolved, that the Town of Slave Lake joins the (FCM) in calling on the federal government to commit to ensuring that local governments are meaningfully consulted, fully informed and at the table on issues related to policing costs, given the municipal role in keeping our communities safe….”
A letter containing the town’s motion is to be sent to Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.
The town followed up with a news release on April 12, restating much of what was in the motion council passed the night before.
“The timing of this decision is highly disappointing,” said Mayor Frankie Ward in the release. “The federal government’s refusal to absorb these costs during a time of near record inflation is not acceptable. Municipalities across Canada are struggling to balance budgets in the face of enormous inflationary pressures. This decision will simply add to an already challenging and difficult situation for our administration and residents. Our council will be forced to make incredibly tough decisions which may result in cuts to essential services or increasing taxes, adversely impacting the quality of life for our residents.”
by Joe McWilliams
April 17, 2023
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