The Niagara police budget is tentatively slated to increase by 4.9 per cent in 2022 and Niagara-on-the-Lake residents could pay another $674,000 for policing next year thanks to increasing property values, the town's treasurer says.
Niagara-on-the-Lake pays one of the highest rates out of the region’s 12 municipalities for police services due to the region's assessment based-funding model.
The assessment-based model means a municipality's policing costs are based on its property values – and NOTL has some of the highest property values in the region.
NOTL is the third-highest contributor to the budget despite only having the ninth-largest population, according to the 2016 census and a regional budget document.
In 2021, NOTL contributed $13,944,714 to the police budget, behind only St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, according to the document.
The police budget will see an increase to $168.9 million from $161 million if it is approved by regional council.
Town treasurer Kyle Freeborn said the 4.9 per cent increase in the police budget does not directly translate to a 4.9 per cent increase in what NOTL taxpayers contribute.
Coincidentally, based on current property value trends, it will almost be the same, however. The town’s contribution is expected to rise by 4.8 per cent due to increased property value assessments, Freeborn said.
“For 2022, it’s estimated that Niagara-on-the-Lake’s police levy would increase by $675,480 to $14,620,194,” he said.
Since 2022 property value assessments are not available yet, that number could fluctuate, he said.
Freeborn said there are alternative models for how municipalities pay for police services.
“For example, the Ontario Provincial Police bill certain communities a portion of their budget on a household basis as opposed to on an assessment basis,” he said.
After a base contribution, the OPP then determines further costs based on an area’s call volume and direct contracts such as court security and prisoner transportation, Freeborn said. This is what’s known as a performance model.
The draft police budget increase will come before the budget review committee in November and could be ratified by regional council in December, NOTL Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa said in an email.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report