TORONTO -- An 8.55% pay increase for OPP officers -- the result of a provincial government commitment to make them the highest paid cops in Ontario -- is forcing up property taxes.
Municipal leaders in communities policed by the OPP say they have to explain to their unhappy residents why property taxes are going up.
And larger municipalities that have their own police services, like Toronto, are bracing for "replicating" arbitration as their officers seek parity with the OPP.
All communities expect difficult negotiations with firefighters and EMS who are eyeing the 8.55% increase.
As of Jan. 1 -- when the pay hike took effect -- an OPP constable with three years on the job started earning an annual base salary of $90,621.
Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the pay increase will cost his community $320,000 more this year, which accounts for a 2.9% increase on the property tax bill.
"I could have had a zero percent tax increase this year if it wasn't to match that salary," McNamara complained. "The seniors, those on fixed pensions, are feeling the pinch the most. I'm not even enhancing the services in the community and my costs are increasing dramatically."
Chris White, mayor of the Township of Guelph-Eramosa and warden of the County of Wellington, said the 8.55% pay jump works out to about $950,000 of a $1.2-million increase in OPP costs this year -- or roughly half of an anticipated 2.2% property tax hike.
"Bottom line it goes on the levy -- absolutely it comes from the taxpayers," White said. "Frankly, as things currently stand, one of our only options would be to reduce the number of officers we're bringing on board ... that's the one thing we can control."