Sylvan Lake Town Council had to dip into the surplus to pay an increase in RCMP wages.
Council recently found the amount budgeted for pay to regular members of the RCMP was increased above expectations. The increase in partially due to retroactive pay increases from 2015.
Sylvan Lake Council budgeted $1,800,000 to pay for RCMP staffing. The actual cost for the 2017 fiscal year, January through to December, is $1,982,000.
That is an increase of roughly $182,000 for RCMP staffing of the current 16 regular members.
Town Council will also have to adjust their budget for 2018 to account for the expected increase.
According to Darren Moore, the director of Finance with the Town, the planned budget for policing costs will not be enough.
“We will have to adjust our planned budget [for RCMP staffing] to just over $2,000,000,” explained Moore.
As part of the Town’s three-year budget, Council had planned a budget of $1,850,000 for RCMP policing for the 2018 fiscal year.
Moore says the expected cost will be more like $2,050,000.
If the town continues to grow as it has, the cost of the the RCMP contract will increase by quite a bit, as larger communities pay a large share of the contract.
Communities with a population larger that 15,000 technically pay the entire contract. There are, however help to be found through the province which offers finical help through an agreement with the federal government.
Currently Sylvan Lake sits at a population of about 14,310, according to the 2016 federal census.
According to Coun. Jas Payne, Council has received numerous questions about RCMP staffing the past.
“A lot of people want to know why there aren’t more officers employed. Why we can’t employ more, this is part of the reason,” he said.
Payne said Council has to look at the budget and know what it will cost to staff officers for a town their size.
“People need to know and see the costs. This is how many we have and this is how much it costs to employ them,” said Payne.
Sylvan Lake will likely not be the only community to face a pay rate increase for RCMP, according to Mayor Sean McIntyre. He believes it is possible to see increases in other communities as many RCMP officers have not seen a pay increase since January 2015.