Langley City's mayor sent an angry letter to the federal government last week after RCMP officers got raises without warning the local governments who pay them.
City Mayor Peter Fassbender's letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews expressed "complete shock and surprise" about a number of increases in RCMP salaries.
There were initially fears that the cities and towns of the Lower Mainland, including the Langleys, would have to pick up the costs for the raises.
Municipalities with RCMP detachments pay 90 per cent of the officers' salaries, with the federal government picking up the remaining 10 per cent. Small towns with less than 15,000 residents split costs 70-30 instead.
Fassbender, who helped negotiate a new contract for B.C. municipalities served by the Mounties, has been communicating with Shirley Bond, B.C.'s minister of justice, and with Ottawa, and has heard that there will likely be no big increase in costs for local taxpayers.
The federal government apparently expects to save money in some areas even as the salaries of RCMP officers rise.
That should offset the costs for municipal governments.
The lack of communication is now what's bothering Fassbender the most, he said.
"Our difficulty is we don't have all the facts in front of us," he said.
Many people even at the federal level were not aware of the details of the RCMP raises, Fassbender said, so the information was simply not passed along.
The raises were buried in the new federal budget that was introduced by the Conservative government last week.
Local mayors and the provincial government are now waiting for an official reply about the RCMP salary costs.
Fassbender worried that the news of the sudden increases could cause a backlash among local mayors, just as they were preparing to sign a new 20-year RCMP contract.
"As you know, we have all worked hard, particularly in the later stages of the negotiations, to build a climate of true partnership and cooperation," Fassbender wrote.
The Langleys have already signed. Township Mayor Jack Froese was not concerned about the wage increases, at least not for this year. With the expected cost savings elsewhere, and with contingencies built into the budget, he expects the Township won't have to tear up its just-passed 2012 budget.
Both mayors say they believe the new 20year contract will prevent this kind of sudden change in the future.
The new contract was written to give B.C. and local governments more information and more input into things like wages and costs.
One positive change that will soon save the Langleys some money on policing is a reduced cost for integrated teams.
Units like the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) or the Police Dog Service will soon be funded at a 70-30 ratio by the municipalities and Ottawa, rather than the old 90-10 ratio.
That should be a significant savings for local governments, Fassbender said.
@ Copyright 2013