Quite a few years in the making, but Monday night was finally the night – The OPP Costing was presented to Council. The gallery was packed and the Opera House was opened up for overflow seating with a live feed to the Council Meeting. This meeting did not allow for any public input – further ‘Open House’ sessions will follow in the coming months. The process is far from over and the public is encouraged to send their comments and questions by email to all members of Council. Orangeville has to make their decision by mid-August 2017 and leading up to that date, there will be a further presentation by OPS (as was requested by Council on Monday), OPP will also be back to break down the costing that occurs after the first 3 year contract is completed, and there will be a public Open House where members of the community will be encouraged to voice their opinions and ask any questions.
I will start off with a public thank you to the members of the OPP who conducted the presentation. I found the presentation to be quite thorough (although I do have further questions that I will discuss later in the post) and I found them very professional, knowledgable and very respectful to Chief Kalinski, the PSB and the entire team of OPS. The OPP is a very well-respected force…if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be policing 300+ municipalities in Ontario – I preface with this because there has been a lot of speculation put out through various media sources about the possibility of a decline in service quality with the OPP and in my humble opinion, that is simply an unfair speculation.
The Level of Service
If Orangeville were to accept the OPP Costing, we would become the 4th Zone in Dufferin County. (Zone 1 is Mono, Zone 2 is Murmur/Melancthon and Zone 3 is Amaranth/East Luther/GrandValley/East Garafraxa. These 4 zones would be part of the Dufferin Detachment. Within the detachment, there would be 11 officers on duty at all times…7 of those officers would report to work in Orangeville. There were a number of concerns from members of Council about those 7 officers potentially being “called away” from Orangeville to assist in a neighbouring municipality if the need arose.
Dollars & Cents
The OPP presented a costing of $7.8 Million per year (for the first 3 years) plus a one time start up cost of approx $1 Million. The current OPS Budget for 2017 is $8.2 Million after its revenues of $1.4 Million. So, it looks like about $400,000 in savings per year for the initial 3 year contract.
However, there are other costs to take into consideration which have not yet been answered – I anticipate further information being released at future information sessions.
There are upgrades needed to the current police station in order for it to house the OPP – the costs of those upgrades were not included in this costing – to me, that is a huge variable. Also, the cost of severances based on collective agreements as well as the ‘pension divestment’ could potential be at a HUGE cost. There would definitely be some cost recovery based on the disposal of OPS’s current assets, but again, no precise dollar amount was presented. In my humble opinion, these are factors that need to be locked down before any decisions are made as they all could affect the dollars & cents in a big way.
The other cost question that remains a mystery up to this point is a full understanding of how the costing model works after the first 3 years – The OPP will be back for another session with Council at some point in the coming months to explain the ins and outs of this. So stay tuned for more information.
Public Open House
As I mentioned earlier, this process is far from over. OPS will be presenting to Council at the meeting on Monday, April 3rd. As mentioned above, there will also be another session from OPP in regards to the 2nd phase of the contract (after the first 3+ years) and there will be a public open house. In the meantime, here is my ask. Please don’t let your voice go unheard. This is perhaps the biggest decision this Council will ever have to make and it will affect every taxpayer in Orangeville for years and years to come. Please don’t wait for the Public Open House…send your emails now…send them to every member of Council at the email addresses that I have enclosed:
- Mayor Williams: email@example.com
- Deputy Mayor Maycock: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Councillor Wilson: email@example.com
- Councillor Bradley: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Councillor Campbell: email@example.com
- Councillor Kidd: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Councillor Garisto: email@example.com
Other emails to send to are:
- CAO Ed Brennan: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Town Clerk Susan Greatrix: email@example.com
Please ensure you include your name and contact information on all correspondence. Send your opinions, questions, and concerns. Make sure your voice is heard before this decision is made.
My Humble Opinions
I have been asked a number of times where I stand..OPP or OPS…and until the presentation on Monday night, I was hesitant to reply simply because I didn’t have all of the information. While I still don’t feel like I have all of the information, at this point in time, I am definitely leaning towards OPS and here is why. When it comes to the money side of things, the cost is comparable. I was expecting a larger savings with OPP and it’s simply not the case. There are too many variables as listed above (severances, pensions, upgrades to the Police Station) that would bring the cost over and above the current OPS budget. As for the level of service, I again believe that this is comparable. Both forces are top-notch and I don’t think there would be any advantages to our service level by going OPP – yes, they do have specialty units and divisions that we could benefit from, but we are already able to leverage those services if they are required. The one advantage to OPP would be for the officers directly – officers for the OPP have more opportunities for advancing their careers if they so choose.
But, until further information is obtained, my vote right now lies with OPS. What are your thoughts? Did your opinion change after the presentation on Monday night? If you were tasked to voting one way or another today, what would your vote be?
….And Then There Was Drama
As you may recall back in November, the Mayor was quoted in the Orangeville Banner stating that “A good Council supports its Mayor. A good CAO supports its Mayor”. Councillor Wilson took offence to the implications of his statement and asked him to apologize. At that time, Mayor Williams informed Councillor Wilson that he was misquoted in the paper and that if Councillor Wilson had an issue with that, he should take it up with the reporter.
Well, Councillor Wilson did. He went and spoke with the reporter who confirmed that the quote was accurate and even provided his hand-written notes of the interview to Councillor Wilson. “I stand by my earlier request that you owe an apology to the staff here, specifically the CAO. I’d like your response to it because I know you have not apologized to Mr. Brennan for your comments in the paper that day.” Mayor Williams replied with “You asked for an apology and I will not be providing one because I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve said nothing wrong. If you don’t like the way that a particular writer writes an article or if you don’t like a particular newspaper, then either don’t read it or write your own.” and continued to state that he said nothing offensive.
At this point, Councillor Kidd jumped in “With all due respect, would it hurt you to just shake Ed’s hand and say ‘if I said something wrong, I’m sorry.’…” and he went on to say “Be a Man and just step up and shake his hand”. The Mayor asked for a motion to adjourn….no one answered. He then tried to move to bylaws…no one answered. Not one word. In the end, the Mayor never did apologize, but shook his hand, albeit begrudgingly.
There is so much wrong with this entire interaction and the events leading up to it that it’s hard to know where to even begin. So, I will start here. In reference to the Mayor’s comments in the newspaper…were they inappropriate? Yes they were. The role of a CAO is NOT a political one. So to suggest that a “good CAO” must support its Mayor is wrong. In my humble opinion, a good CAO advises council and the Mayor without political bias. A good CAO is looking out for the best interests of the residents of the community and the best interests of Town staff. Should the Mayor apologize to Mr. Brennan for his comments…yes, he probably should. Thankfully Mr. Brennan is a professional and continues to do a fantastic job for us, the residents, with or without an apology.
Councillor Kidd’s response to the situation was also inappropriate. I respect his intentions…however perhaps some sensitivity training is in order as his comments were incredibly disrespectful. This ‘Code of Conduct’ that was enacted last year clearly has no merit.
A good leader will accept feedback and use it to grow – and all of the elected ‘leaders’ of our Town need to be reminded of that. If the Mayor honestly didn’t believe that he had said something inappropriate, a better response would have been ‘Thank you for the feedback, I will take your comments into advisement’ and move on. Instead, the deflection, denial and defensiveness was successful in creating yet another hostile environment.
There have been many embarrassing moments over the last 2+ years of this term of Council and this was perhaps one of the most embarrassing because in attendance were half a dozen or more members of the OPP looking to do business with our Town – if I were them, I don’t know what I’d be thinking…but I likely would have gone back to the higher ups of the organization and questioned whether this was a Council we want to be associated with.
Well Wishes for Councillor Garisto
On Monday, Council passed a motion approving an extended medical leave for Councillor Garisto until the end of April. At this time, I’d like to wish Councillor Garisto all the best and send hopes of good health and a speedy recovery.
Next Council Meeting
The next Council Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 6th, 2017.