(BlackburnNews.com photo)

Chief Cuts Wingham’s Police Budget But Warns Big Hikes Are Coming

North Huron council is getting its wish of a reduced Wingham Police Services budget but the chief warns it’s only delaying the inevitable.

The township is facing an 18% jump in its taxes with the Wingham ward bearing the brunt because of an increase in the cost of policing. The average home in Wingham stands to see its taxes go up by $478 this year.

Chief Tim Poole says he cut 14% from the police budget by hiring recruits instead of experienced officers and by putting off their start dates to September and January.

But those officers will see their wages go up as they climb the salary grid so Poole estimates that by 2019 the budget will go up to just under $1.7-million. By 2020, Poole says the budget will be over $1.8-million. The 2018 police budget is now just under $1.4-million.

For comparison, the OPP’s offer from January to police Wingham would have cost the township $1.9-million in the first year of the contract, just under $1.3-million in the second year, and just over $1.3-million in the third year.

Poole says the township has to hire more officers to ensure that there are two officers on duty at any given time.

“The reason behind that is officer safety,” Poole says. “We’re getting more and more dangerous calls arresting people with weapons and arresting people where they have a very volatile background and it requires two people to deal with those individuals.”

North Huron council meets again to try and pass its budget May 22.