A number of B.C. municipalities are experiencing sticker shock over an unexpected bill including some on Vancouver Island.
The bills are for retroactive pay for RCMP members under the police force’s first collective agreement.
“It is very significant,” said Al Siebring, North Cowichan’s Mayor.
Municipalities were previously told to budget $30,500 per officer per year for retroactive pay for the contract that dates back to April 1, 2017.
North Cowichan followed the advice and earmarked $880,000 but once the cost implications were calculated it wasn’t enough.
“We find out we’re still short about $300,000 contract was bigger than that contingency that they advised that $300,000 is a one percent tax increase in North Cowichan,” said Siebring.
In Nanaimo, the city with the largest RCMP detachment on Vancouver Island, it’s a similar scenario.
“We expect that we’ll be about $2.7 million short however that was covered by last year’s surplus,” said Leonard Krog, Nanaimo’s Mayor.
Regardless both mayors say it’s an unexpected cost that shouldn’t be downloaded on municipalities and they’ve reached out to the federal and provincial governments through the Union of BC Municipalities.
“We have asked the government in particular that this is a time for a one-shot bit of assistance for municipal governments in the province who use the RCMP for policing services. This is a pretty substantive increase,” said Krog.
Krog says there are a number of pressures on its policing resources and the funding is needed.
Al Siebring says recommendations to negotiate the RCMP’s contract-based geographic cost-of-living considerations went unheeded and so he’d like to see the negotiation process change in the future.
“It’s been a real frustration for us because the treasury board negotiated the contract but at the end of the day we’re the ones paying 90 percent of it and we’re left holding the bag,” said Siebring.
The senior governments have indicated they will meet with municipalities to discuss covering the RCMP’s higher than expected wage contract.