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Mission likely to sign new RCMP contract, says mayor

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The recent revelations of unexpected pay increases in the new RCMP contract with B.C. municipalities may have caught many mayors off guard, but Mission's top municipal politician says he isn't concerned.

RCMP-policed cities will soon decide whether to ratify a new 20-year contract with the federal force, although costs of pay increases are much higher than originally expected, which could cause problems for some cities' budgets.

"At this stage I think that for this year we will be covered, because we budgeted for an increase and we have an RCMP contingency fund if we need to draw on it," said Mayor Ted Adlem in an interview on Wednesday.

Cities were notified last year of RCMP pay hikes of 1.5 per cent in each of the next three years, but those figures have since been reviewed upwards.

"At this stage, there's a couple of good things about this contract. There's a two-year opt-out clause. If we aren't happy, well then you're going to have to do your own," he said, although he cautioned that Mission has no intention of creating a police force.

Nevertheless, Adlem said the district has looked into the costs and said Port Moody, which has a comparable population, pays about $8 million annually. Mission's RCMP detachment, meanwhile, has a slightly smaller complement that costs $9.5 million a year.

"I'm not saying that's a good, bad, or an ugly thing but I'm saying it's something we have to look at seriously," he said.

Adlem said he's also had several conversations with Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman about sitting down with their police chief and discussing costs, though no immediate plans have been made to do that.

While no contract is perfect, Adlem said there is some good in the RCMP contract, including allowing municipalities to have some say in costs and hiring.

"Generally speaking, I'm happy," he said.

Adlem will participate in a province-wide conference call with cities tomorrow and Lower Mainland mayors with RCMP detachments will meet Friday morning in Surrey to discuss it further.

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