Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC protesting policing costs
YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
All 23 towns in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC are passing a motion in supporting of recuperating
money reportedly overpaid for the region’s policing services from the Sûreté du Québec.
Following a motion adopted at the February 25 meeting of the mayors of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC, this month is seeing the 23 member towns passing a motion at their respective municipal council meetings in support of the MRC to pressure the provincial government to reimburse funds reportedly overpaid for Sûreté du Québec (SQ) policing services for the last five years, an amount the MRC has calculated to be $28.5 million.
“According to the laws that govern us, we can only speak by motion or by-law,” said MRC-VS (Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges) Executive Director and Secretary Treasurer Guy-Lin Beaudoin. “So we’re sending a message to the government by a motion and we’re hoping they will hear our concerns.”
When it was decided in 2002 by the Ministry of Public Security that off - island municipalities would use policing services of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the agreement was for towns to absorb 53 per cent of the operating costs. The MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges is currently paying 111.10 per cent of the region’s policing costs.
“We have a very low crime rate,” said Beaudoin. “For an area that has no issues, we’re paying a lot.”
“It was not our choice (to sign this agreement),” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon. “It was the choice of the Minstry who didn’t want any municipal police between the Ontario border and the Island of Montreal.”
Besides local policing, the SQ services include protection of Premier Philippe Couillard, all the ministers, national inquiries into organized criminal activities, Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC), as well as special event and crises management warranting SQ services.
“The problem is the Quebec Government discovered that not all the municipalities in the province have the means to pay 53 per cent of the cost.” Beaudoin said that instead of implementing a per capita payment system, the amount charged was determined by the tax assessment.
The Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC, having a comparatively higher assessment than a number of the other provincial MRCs has been saddled with a greater proportion of the policing price-tag.
“We’re supposed to pay for the service we use,” echoed St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “What we’re doing now is we’re paying more. We’re paying over and above the service that we’re using.”
“The government is only reimbursing us the difference between the 111.1 per cent and 80 per cent, or $6.8 million. For $28 million, we can build a lot of things,” said Beaudoin. “It’s a question of justice and equity.”
He said the MRC would be amenable to the government awarding grants to less affluent areas of the province in order to ensure all regions have the same quality policing. The Bonaventure MRC located in New Carlisle shoulders only 18.69 per cent of its policing costs.
“Usually, the transfer payment is done at the provincial level, not on five MRCs,” said Beaudoin, indicating the payment assessment should be calculated against income tax and not municipal tax evaluation, the latter resulting in what he described as quadruple taxation.
“All over Quebec, we have the same level of policing. Except we (in Vaudreuil-Soulanges) are paying more and more. If we want to maintain a provincial level of policing, education, or healthcare, transfer payments need to be done at the provincial level, not at the local level. This is totally unfair for our population,” said Beaudoin, describing how residents pay income and property taxes for their own services, plus an addition property tax for residents not living in the very municipalities generating the tax dollars.