SPRINGHILL – A month after signing a new contract with the Springhill Police Service, the Town of Springhill is already looking at its options.
During it’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Max Snow called for a motion to build a committee to explore alternate policing services for the community, saying the present contract – which includes a salary increase of 18.5 per cent over four years – requires raising taxes.
“It’s only going to get worse,” Snow said. “We’re going to be into contract dialogue soon and it’s only going to go up again… it’s not that we’re dissatisfied with our police department, I want to make that very clear. We are satisfied with them. It’s just the cost. We have to look at cost and want to dialogue with them to see if there can be a significant adjustment on what’s taking place.”
Contract negotiations between the town and the police force went into arbitration before coming to the January settlement. That settlement has played a role in the town’s decision to forge the committee, according to the mayor and deputy mayor Harold Delaney.
“It was also based on what the province wanted. It was too high. It was too high before the new contract, so the next contract is only going to make it higher,” Delaney said.
“We’re concerned about the tax payers,” Snow said. “We don’t want the taxes up. The townspeople can’t afford that.”
The committee will have to open dialogue, Snow said during council, with the present police force, other municipal police forces and Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry and any and all alternatives will have to be explored, including reduced service or RCMP policing.
“That, obviously, could be one alternative,” Delaney said.
It’s not an easy decision to move on, Mayor Snow conceded.
“We were elected by the people of this town to make tough decisions on their behalf, therefore we have to do that,” Snow said. “We have to keep our commitment to the townspeople and to our finances within the town and have to make this decision. It’s a tough call. I wish we didn’t even have to go there.”