CAO Jeff Lees is addressing what's become a simmering town issue that could drastically affect Penetanguishene ratepayers.
During a council meeting, Lees took the time to discuss Solicitor General Sylvia Jones' response last week to concerns over Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) policing costs.
“Our goal is to have an engaging discussion and work towards a collective solution with the ministry, which has failed to happen to date,” Lees explained during the regular meeting verbal update.
Jones’ letter to Penetanguishene restated that the province would continue to pay invoices for the superjail's 2020 and 2021 policing costs, and that her ministry would work with the town to understand impacts for a re-evaluation six months after the OPP billing model goes into effect on January 1, 2022.
“Some of the things that we’re working on in the background is collecting some data with respect to other facilities across the province,” shared Lees, noting that collaborations with other municipalities and community groups were another point of focus for the town.
“Ultimately our goal, in addition to getting a positive end result, is to not let this matter drop," he said. "It’s still going to remain a priority in accordance with the direction that council has provided; and recognizing that waiting six months for a further review will not be fruitful from our perspective.
“Now is really the time that we need to continue to seek answers, and to outline what the facts are. We don’t need six months to know what the facts are and the impacts are. We know what they are today."
The Solicitor General’s correspondence came days after the town encouraged a letter-writing campaign to Jones and Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop.
Lees also stated that the town had received copies of letters that residents were sending out.
“There’s been a good uptake, but certainly we’re still encouraging the community to get involved," he said.
In a previous letter to Jones, Mayor Doug Leroux noted: “The impact of the loss of the cost recovery at that facility is expected to be $373,952 for the upcoming 2022 year, increasing the tax levy for that matter alone by 3.3%, an average hike of $87 to each property in town.”
Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca