A surprise increase in the rate of pay for RCMP announced by the federal government has Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne wondering where the money will come from.
He said he doesn’t know yet how much of an increase the district would be looking at but the figure nationally is $195-million. The RCMP will be looking at ways to save money internally, said Milne, but they haven’t communicated anything to municipalities.
There are two sides to the upcoming increase, one is pay raises for RCMP members and the other is increased lease costs to detachment buildings owned by the federal government.
“It looks like a significant increase,” said Milne. “We are trying to assess what it will be.” He said he thinks it will be about 1 per cent.
What is difficult, said Milne, is that they were blindsided by the announcement and were not able to consider it in this year’s budget.
“Something else will have to go,” said Milne. “We may have to eat into our surplus cash to make up for it next year.” He mentioned the $120,000 council contingency fund as a source to cover the added cost this year.
If the increase is limited to 1 per cent Milne said he is not worried, but if the increase is $60,000 to $70,000 next year for lease costs that’s another story.
“There are no options unfortunately, it’s frustrating, we’re into it for 20 years.”
It’s the long-term implications that have the most significance and Milne said he wondered if they could operate on a zero per cent tax increase for the next five years.
“It sends the message to the community and staff that we’re serious,” said Milne in regard to his commitment to cut costs and stick to budgets.