City of Mission staffers say the budget can handle the large wage increase for RCMP members, negotiated in the new collective agreement with the federal government.
The six-year contract, recently ratified with the National Police Federation, provides a 1.75 per cent annual increase retroactive to 2017. Combined with an 11.5 per cent market adjustment, their wages will increase 23.8 per cent by the end of 2022.
The preliminary estimate for the amount owed to the beginning of 2021 is $1.5 million, according to a Sept. 7 report from Director of Finance Doug Stewart, but the city has over $2 million sitting in its police reserve.
The city has been anticipating the increased wages since negotiations began in 2016, setting aside a 2.5 per cent increase annually, adding $1.6 million to the reserve.
“It certainly has helped us now, because it’s put us in a position where we can absorb the increase without a whole lot of pain or disruption to the (city) budget,” Stewart said.
He did stress, however, that the $1.5 million retroactive-pay estimate was “rough,” and his calculations may differ from the RCMP’s invoice.
Staff are confident that there will be sufficient unspent funds in the reserves to cover the wage increases through 2021, but tax adjustments will be needed starting in 2022.
Mission council unanimously approved staff’s request for $600,000 to be put into the police reserve to account for a 1.56 per cent tax increase over the next three years.
“We’ll be compensating our RCMP more in line with what’s been the standard across Canada, helping to retain people and attract new members to the RCMP, but also not burden the taxpayer,” said Mayor Paul Horn.
“So I just want to say thank you to the council and staff for being forward thinking on this.”