AH OPP bill exceeds $1 million
The following are brief reports of items discussed during an Oct. 19 meeting of Algonquin Highlands council.
Algonquin Highlands’ OPP costs will increase by more than $106,000, bringing the township’s 2018 policing bill to approximately $1.07 million.
2018 marks the fourth year of a five-year phase-in of a billing formula that redistributes OPP expenses throughout Ontario, qualifying seasonal residences as households. Thus, each of Haliburton County’s four lower-tier townships have seen significant increases in their OPP costs since 2015.
This year’s increase of $106,000 is smaller than the increases Algonquin Highlands has experienced the past few years. The 2017 increase was nearly $225,000 and in 2016, $237,000.
This year’s $106,000 jump represents an 11 per cent increase in the township’s OPP bill, and equates to 2.2 per cent of the township’s general tax levy.
“It still hurts, but it’s better than the five and half [per cent levy increase] last year,” said treasurer Tammy McKelvey.
“Sadly, we see 2.2 as good news,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt, referring to years of substantial increases.
During the phase-in of the formula, the collective OPP bill for the county’s four municipalities is doubling from approximately $3 million to approximately $6 million.
VOIP provides phone savings
Switching to an internet-based phone system could save the township 56 per cent on its phone bill, or about $14,000 a year.
A staff report from chief administrative officer Angie Bird indicated that switching township analog lines over to voice over implementation (VOIP) technology, which provides voice calling over the internet, could result in substantial annual savings.
Algonquin Highlands has 32 telephone and fax lines spread over its properties, and currently pays approximately $25,000 annually for their operation.
According to Bird’s report, switching to internet-based calling could reduce that bill to less than $11,000 per year.
Haliburton County has been transitioning some of its lines to VOIP and Bird said there have been some logistical challenges.
“There will be dropped calls,” Bird said. However, she said the benefits seem to outweigh drawbacks.
“Obviously, the biggest one is cost savings,” Bird said.
The plan is for the Stanhope Airport to be the first location converted to VOIP, and to act as a test site for the township, with other facilities to follow.