Alternative police services to be studied

Council’s wages discussed, slate for Museum

The OPP came under heavy criticism from Council on Tuesday night with the two members of the Police Services Board (PSB) leading the attack. Both Mayor Al Strathdee and Coun. Don Van Galen, who is Chair of the PSB, cited a lack of communication as a major issue. Mayor Strathdee, who introduced a motion to look at alternative police services, said that he had to do “due diligence” and examine what services are being provided. At present, the Town pays $1.163 million, which is 10% of the Town’s budget. As for the lack of communication, he cited as an example the fact that neither the Town nor the principal of DCVI have heard of any proposals to have an OPP community police officer at the high school. “It is now the middle of September and the high school principal has no information on this, even though we heard unofficially that 70 hours had been allocated for this to be split between three high schools”, Mayor Strathdee said. He also read a portion from the contract to emphasize his dissatisfaction: “In consultation with the St. Marys Police Services Board, it is the intent that all existing community service programs and community policing committees will be maintained. Any new community service considered may be implemented after consultation with the Town of St. Marys Council, the Town of St. Marys Police Services Board and the Perth County OPP Detachment Commander”, adding “this has not been done”. Coun. Don Van Galen also mentioned the lack of communication with the OPP “in a summer when there was an increase in vandalism.’ In a recorded vote, Council voted unanimously to have CAO Brent Kittmer review alternative methods for delivering police services including contracting with the Stratford Police Department and for the report to be completed by the end of October.

It has been 5 years since elected officials received an increase and one councilor thinks this should be addressed. Coun. Tony Winter suggested that a citizen’s group should be formed to recommend whether Council should get an increase. Town staff produced a summary of like municipalities and found that St. Marys was “average” in the wages department. Coun. Bill Osborne suggested that this “average” rating was enough to leave the salary as it is. Coun. Jim Craigmile said a more pressing item other than a salary increase was to create an expense account for the Mayor to cover the cost of entertaining dignitaries when they come to town. He said at present there is no such account. Council decided to leave things as they are now and defer the subject until budget time.

Council has decided to “donate” excess slate from the Bell Tower at the Town Hall to the Museum who will sell it at a fundraiser at the beginning of October. It was also decided to donate any excess seating from the balcony at the auditorium in the Town Hall to the Museum, which will also be sold at a fundraiser.

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