Terrace delays RCMP contract signing

City council wants more information on policing cost increases before signing 20-year contract

THE CITY of Terrace has delayed signing up for RCMP services for the next 20 yeaars because of an unexpected officer pay hike.

The city had already anticipated the cost of police services here rising $16,000 past what council had first budgeted for in its 2012 draft. Now, that number will climb.

But the city has yet to find out how much more costs will jump once officer pay raises are introduced. Terrace’s city council put off signing on last night until more information about what to expect becomes available.

The pay hike amounts to a 1.5 per cent increase retroactive to Jan. 1, said Terrace’s mayor Dave Pernarowski at last night’s meeting.

It actually changes the scope of the agreement that we’re just about ready to sign off on,” he said, adding that the Union of BC Municipalities will now be revising a report on contract cost implications to include the pay hike.

I think it is going to impact our bottom line,” said Pernarowski, suggesting that council wait for more information before signing the contract.

The Municipal Policing Agreement is to be signed by all three levels of government and allows municipalities to contract RCMP services from the province.

The federal government pays a portion of policing costs to both the province and municipalities under various formulas.

While the provincial government is saying it was never informed of the pay hike and the federal government says it did tell the province.

That’s what makes the pay raises a surprise to the city.

Local governments do not get involved in salary adjustments that are provided to RCMP members,” said the city’s finance director Ron Bowles. “Potential RCMP contract cost increases, however, are of concern to us.”

The reason for this is because it is a municipality’s responsibility to pay a chunk of the cost for local service, which includes officer salaries.

For a municipality of less than 15,000 people, simply put, the cost of pay increases would be split between municipalities and the federal government 70 – 30 .

The city of Terrace has 25 regular officers that work directly for the municipality, according to a presentation from Terrace’s RCMP head at last night’s meeting. They are not the sole RCMP officers and staff working locally.

The increases also came as a surprise to inspector Dana Hart.

But after recently hearing the news, Hart clarified that a 1.5 per cent pay raise isn’t all that great for officers here.

The members themselves are seeing a significant decrease in pay,” he said, adding that officers are now paying for their portions of benefit packages.

Council will wait for updated financial information to arrive before deciding what to do next.