A recent rise in the price of providing a co-managed federal-provincial program to pay for DNA testing in law enforcement is being downloaded onto municipalities, and the City of Terrace doesn’t like it one bit.
At a recent regular meeting, Terrace councillors received information outlining the reasons why the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) opposes this fee increase on behalf of municipalities affected.
They also resolved to write their own letter about their displeasure with receiving a surprise new cost without consultation.
The problem began this fall when a bill of $2,352 arrived, followed by the knowledge that total costs are expected to be $11,400 starting for the 2016/2017 year.
“It wasn’t even asked of us, it was told. So it was a complete download. There is no negotiation, there is no discussion, so you can imagine Terrace, like other municipalities, is pretty upset about this. We will lobby through UBCM that this gets reversed,” said mayor Carol Leclerc.
The fees are for what is called Biological Casework Analysis that is performed by the RCMP forensic identification team, National Police Services and local police detachments. The provincial and federal governments renegotiated the payment method shared between them, and the provincial government set a cap on what it would pay annually, with the rest being cost-shared with the local police units around the province who in turn bill municipalities for the total amount.
“Police services has created a cost sharing model calculated on the total cost for DNA analysis in British Columbia, minus the provincial contribution, distributed proportionally based on your agency’s two year average usage compared to the usage of other law enforcement agencies in British Columbia,” said a letter to the Terrace RCMP detachment about the new program.
Terrace’s contribution and thus usage of DNA crime forensics compared to neighbouring municipalities is average. By way of comparison, Prince Rupert will have to pay $26,361.17 for 2016/2017 and Kitimat $7,456.45.
The total cost for BC in 2016/2017 will be $4.9 million, with $1.36 million coming from the province in a base sum and then $3.5 million cost shared with municipalities having 5,000 or more residents, who will pay $2.9 million collectively in total. The federal government pays for the remaining 46 per cent.
Another letter from the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) stated this is an instance of the province downloading costs from the province to municipalities balanced budget.
The City of Terrace report states that the city did not authorize the Organized Crime Agency to invoice them for the service.