ST. MARY’S – The bad news is the cost of policing the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s will be higher than expected this year. The good news is that big increases are not likely habit-forming at RCMP operations, says Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald.
Last month, council learned that the district’s mandatory contribution for maintaining 3.5 (full-time equivalent) RCMP officers will rise by just under five per cent to $513,390 in fiscal 2021-22 (ending March 31), compared with the previous year.
Director of Finance Marian Fraser informed the May 19 committee of the whole meeting, “That’s $19,000 above what we had actually budgeted for this year [and] the largest increase we’ve seen in quite a few years.”
But last week, MacDonald told The Journal that the increase was related to ongoing contract negotiations between RCMP brass and its employees in Nova Scotia and is not expected to be repeated anytime soon.
“They [Nova Scotia Department of Justice] are anticipating an increase in salaries and benefits,” he says. “We had budgeted for a cost-of-living rise [under two per cent] as usual, but we didn’t have current information from Justice at the time. This kind of increase doesn’t happen each year.”
St. Mary’s is policed by Guysborough District RCMP. The local office, located in Sherbrooke, is comprised of four regular members (one corporal and three constables) and one detachment assistant.
“There’s a minimum of one member on shift for both dayshifts and afternoon shifts and a designated on-call member is always available locally for backup,” says Cpl. Lisa Croteau, Public Information Officer, Halifax District RCMP, in an email. “Should additional assistance ever be required, other members from Guysborough District (based out of Guysborough and Canso) are always available to attend.”
Department of Justice spokesperson Heather Fairburn states that “regular annual increases” are included under RCMP contract with relevant municipalities. “Under the provincial policing services agreement, the province and those municipalities that choose to contract the RCMP for policing services are responsible for 70 per cent of their policing costs associated with those services,” she explains in an email. “The province makes payment on the contract and recovers the costs from the municipality. The federal government contributes the remaining 30 per cent.”
Says MacDonald: “We’ll find some savings somewhere else so we can reallocate the money [this year]. Of course, we never like to pay more than we have to.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal