Policing cost negotiations on hold

Census recounts, election lead to delays for City of Armstrong

How much the City of Armstrong will have to pay for policing costs remains a mystery.

The latest census results showed Armstrong with a population of more than 5,000 for the first time in its 104-year history, meaning the city is now responsible for policing.

The city started a reserve to help pay for the costs, but the cost to taxpayers is unknown due to a couple of delays.

“Three communities in B.C. – Armstrong, Osoyoos and Fernie – went over 5,000 people for the first time, and Fernie and Osoyoos have asked for a recount of the census because both are just barely over,” said Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper, which has led to a halt in negotiations with the city over costs.

“The solicitor-general wants to deal with all three communities at the same time,” said Pieper.

It’s also believed negotiations will not continue until after the May 9 provincial election.

Pieper said the city is 125 residents over the 5,000 mark and will not ask for a census recount.

Council, meanwhile, has asked staff to create a separate police tax levy so that the effects of the RCMP contract are clearly evident on the tax notice.

The 2017 draft budget contained a provision to generate an additional $421,500 in revenue to cover police costs with the effect on the average house being $70 net of the provincial police levy being eliminated.

Council has asked staff to rework the numbers.

“They struggled with those numbers,” said chief financial officer Terry Martens, who will crunch the numbers again and prepare a new figure for the April 24 council meeting.

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