North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater says criminals should pay for the cost of policing and has a plan for how to get the cash.
It involves property taxes and amending the province’s Cities Act. North Battleford city council sent the proposal to the province earlier this month.
At its heart is the idea that taxpayers are unfairly tagged with the bill for investigations when drug and gang busts are tied to a specific house.
North Battleford is policed by the RCMP, like many cities in Saskatchewan and across western Canada. Bater said the city pays for about 70 cent of the costs associated with policing.
“A single incident involving illegal drugs and guns could result in several RCMP members doing their work on a property for many days,” Bater said in an interview.
“Right now those costs are being paid for by city taxpayers. We would like the ability to pass those costs on directly to the property owner.”
Bater says there is a precedent for the proposal.
For instance, if there are costs associated with fighting a fire at a property then the owner can be charged for the services, he said.
If the owner doesn’t pay, it can be added to the property tax.
This does not exist for police costs.
Bater said that owners can be given a bill for costs associated with policing, “but if it goes unpaid, it simply just goes unpaid.”
Adding that amount to the property tax is a just a stronger way of collecting, he said.
Bater said he doesn’t know how much exactly it costs now to do these complex investigations, but organized crime has been trending up in the city.
Bater added that such an amendment would not lead to appeals that would clog the courts.
“Dispute mechanisms would not go to court because it’s a bill being issued by a municipality,” he said.
“It would be like any other bill the city would issue. If somebody wanted to dispute it, they would have to go to city council.”
Bater said the proposal was sent to the Minister of Government Relations on May 18.
A spokesperson said in an email that the Ministry, “is reviewing the request and will be in touch with the city to discuss the proposal and how it might be considered.”