The province has floated a proposal to require small communities and rural municipalities to pick up a share of police costs. Red Deer Advocate file photo

The province has floated a proposal to require small communities and rural municipalities to pick up a share of police costs. Red Deer Advocate file photo

Red Deer County facing $400,000 policing bill

Provincial government says rural and small municipalities must pay a share of policing costs now

Red Deer County is getting an unwelcome $400,000 policing bill at a time when tax revenues are expected to drop by $2 million because of the slumping economy.

“This is a complete download from the provincial government,” said Mayor Jim Wood on Tuesday.

“I think that it really needs to be clear that it is.”

Wood and other members of council have been critical of the provincial government’s move, announced last year, to have rural and small municipalities pay — for the first time — a portion of policing costs.

Municipalities’ contributions start at 10 per cent this year and increase to 30 per cent by 2022.

Red Deer County’s 2020 bill will be $387,121, increasing to a projected $661,229 in 2021 and $934,242 in 2022.

Many rural municipalities are upset that their funding contributions do not come with any provincial commitment to improve policing in their communities.

“We’re not seeing any new officers on the ground because of this,” said Wood, as council gave first reading to a bylaw freezing tax rates for 2020 to help residents hit hard by the pandemic and energy industry downturn.

What the county is going to get for its contribution was also on the mind of Coun. Dana Depalme, who asked administration if the county could expect to see additional RCMP officers.

Dave Brand, county community and protective services director, said the funding was only going toward supporting existing policing costs.

“So, as of right now, we’re just paying for what we already have,” said Depalme.

The province has announced it plans to beef up Alberta’s police with 300 more officers and 200 support workers in coming years.

County manager Curtis Herzberg said there has been no further information on where those officers may go.

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