Kilger, Rivette want to keep police contract talks local

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Cornwall Community Police Service

A pair of city council representatives on the Cornwall Community Police Services Board are not supportive of a move to centralize collective bargaining across the province.

Mayor Bob Kilger and Coun. Andre Rivette agreed Wednesday that lumping Cornwall in with other municipalities across the province when it comes to awarding lucrative police contracts would likely cost the city even more than it is paying out now.

"We'd be paying the same dollars down here that they are paying elsewhere because of the big awards they are paying in large centres like Toronto," Rivette said in an interview. "I would never be in favour of that."

The Cornwall Police Association, which represents the 87 front-line officers in Cornwall as well as assorted civilians, has filed a notice of intent to bargain with the Police Services Board. The board has reviewed the notice.

The contract would likely run just two years, because the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (OAPSB) wants to see centralized bargaining across the province among its 49 boards.

Kilger says no way.

"I would prefer to find a made-in-Cornwall solution wherever we can," he said. "We obviously have some different economic factors (compared to other municipalities)."

The costs of policing are outpacing the Consumer Price Index, population growth, and even growth in the number of officers on the streets, the OAPSB said earlier his year.

But many municipalities and local police boards do not have the ability to address this rising trend without dramatically raising taxes or cutting costs.

City council has already told municipal departments, including police, fire and land ambulance, to come back with a 2013 budget that factors in a tax increase of no more than three per cent.

In recent years, as many as 60 small and rural police services contracted with the OPP because rising costs made it too expensive for municipalities to maintain their own police service.

Police and firefighters have enjoyed annual raises in the three per cent range, while land ambulance increases have hovered around two per cent, said Kilger.

The combined budgets of police, fire and land ambulance account for half of the city's $145-million budget.

Organizations: Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, Cornwall Community Police Services Board, Cornwall Police Association

Geographic location: Cornwall, Toronto

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