Armstrong residents can expect a 2017 tax hike, related directly to the fact that the city – for the first time ever – will have to pay for a majority of its policing costs.
The recently released 2016 census numbers show Armstrong is now officially a community with more than 5,000 residents (5,114). As such, the city is now responsible for 70 per cent of its policing costs, effective April 1.
“Communities under 5,000 have police tax added to their property taxes,” said Coun. Steven Drapala, chairperson of the city’s finance and administration committee. “If you’re over 5,000, you have to pay 70 per cent.”
The federal government pays the remaining 30 per cent of costs.
In a letter from the provincial Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, ministry staff told the city that typically municipalities with more than 5,000 residents “choose to continue having their community policed by the RCMP under the terms of the Municipal Police Unit Agreement.”
Mayor Chris Pieper said the city will be in negotiations with the RCMP through til April 1 to determine how much the city will have to pay.
The costs will be covered through taxation, starting this year.
“We’ve got a small reserve that we’ve been saving up because we knew it might happen.,” said Pieper. “But it’s a lot of money.”
Pieper said the city has been paying about $240,000 per year in policing costs.
Armstrong council and staff continue to work on the city’s five-year financial plan, which will now include policing costs.