Area towns are pressuring Quebec’s public security department to come up with a more equitable way to charge for Sûreté du Québec policing services.
This comes after many received unwelcome increases in their cost of policing services for 2013.
The reason for the increase: the values of homes has gone up in their municipalities. According to the formula determined by the Quebec government, each town pays based on the assessed value of homes. Towns with homes valued higher will pay more for police. This formula has nearly nothing to do with the actual cost of policing, the mayors charge.
Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal said since his town saw an average 16-per-cent increase in its valuation roll, the cost of policing has gone up by about the same proportion, for a $65,798 increase in next year’s budget.
“There’s no logic there,” Cardinal said. “It’s a pure mathematical formula. Theoretically, the citizen is charged arbitrarily for this service.”
He added that another frustration is that the SQ always overcharges municipalities for its services, and then issues a refund at the end of the year.
The Union of Municipalities of Quebec is also looking into the formula, and has met with officials in the ministry of public security to ask them to re-examine it. UMQ representatives will meet with the minister’s officials again at the end of January to discuss the subject.
“Municipalities have their evaluation rolls redone every three years, so when that happens, they can often get a significant increase in their bills,” explained Sylvie Pigeon, a political councillor with the UMQ.
She said Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron appears open to discussing the subject.
Pigeon said the formula makes no sense because municipalities don’t receive more service when they pay more, nor is there more of a need for police service when the home values in a town increase.
In fact, she said there is a separate formula to determine what level of police services a town will receive. So there is no link between how much a town pays for policing, and the quality of services the town receives.
When asked why the valuation roll was used as a method of calculating the roll, Pigeon said she didn’t know, and that the question should be asked to the public security minister.
Officials at the public security department did not return The Gazette’s calls on this matter.