Town and Police Board to sign MOU

The Business Services Unit (BSU) of the Cobourg Police generates significant income that offsets costs to the Town and taxpayers but the Police board is concerned that this comes with a risk.  If Governments, Provincial or Federal, change the rules, the income could be lost.  Therefore the Town and the Police have prepared a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that spells out how this will be handled.  The intent is to keep the BSU separate from day to day Police operation and budget so that any drop in income will not impact taxpayers.  So far, profit from the BSU has been used for Capital items – most recently the cost of setting up the second floor of Venture 13 to house the BSU.

Cobourg Police Coat of Arms
Cobourg Police Coat of Arms

The big concern is that the BSU proceeds are at an

“…. ongoing, acute risk associated with potential change in Federal and/or Provincial legislation as well as and, in particular, the dynamics of operating within a highly competitive marketplace that in itself is subject to significant uncertainty from emerging and potentially transformative technologies that could lead to unprecedented market disruption.”

For the budget of 2018, the BSU profit was expected to be $1M and the Town’s Policing budget had no increase from 2017.  Going forward, the intent is to have the Town pay all operating costs  – that is no change – and keep the BSU profit for:

  1. Direct BSU Costs
  2. A reserve fund “to cover all projected liabilities associated with potential business unit wind down inclusive of employment related costs, long term leases, liabilities and disposal of hard and intangible assets.”
  3. Future investments in
    • Capital equipment and related training (especially new technologies) intended to increase policing efficiencies.
    • Pilot projects and/or partnerships leading to community benefits [An example might be the recent partnership with the Legion Pipes and Drums]
    • Further expansion of the BSU
  4. An overall operating emergency reserve intended to minimize the impact of taxation fluctuations in the case of an unforeseen situation of an urgent nature.  This reserve will grow, over 5 years, to an amount currently estimated at $600,000.

The proposed MOU will be presented to Council at their next Committee of the Whole meeting on May 14.

I would describe the change as making sure that the BSU operates at arms-length from the Town.   After all, there are no high paid business managers in the BSU so they are especially vulnerable to competition.  If the Town were to become reliant on a big profit from the BSU and that were to suddenly stop, taxpayers would face a big hit.  Reserves look to be a good idea.


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Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

Who wrote this stuff? This requires special training of a high order.
But just a little nit picking: “the parties recognize that property taxation is the principle source of operating funds”.
I think they mean principal. Hope this helps.
On a more serious note. The new legislation referred to below will affect employers who want background checks on job applicants.
The new legal framework is based on consent and the protection of an individual’s privacy. As a result, information in police record checks will only be disclosed by the authorities where an individual consents.
I should think that will cut down on employers’ background check requests.

5 years ago

If anybody can decipher the bureaucratese that permeates this memo good luck to them. Plain English please. For example: “The risk of continuity of extraordinary proceeds coupled with the preference to insulate the community from acute fluctuations in the municipal tax base results in both streams of funding (taxation and non-taxation) remaining synchronised, though independent, for their distinct purposes.” really means “we are in a risky venture and want to keep the profits separate or else taxpayers may take a hit!”

Reply to  ben
5 years ago

I would rephrase it as: “We are in a risky venture and want to keep more of the profits for a future downturn. Let’s raise Cobourg taxes now to protect the taxpayers from a possible future hit! It is better that taxes are high every year rather than having a possible increase in the future. If by some miracle our business continues we’ll use the retained profits as an unaccountable slush fund for future schemes. Further, we are not very good at planning so we’ll immediately move into a shiny new office (Venture 13 building) knowing that the future may not be good”

How stupid do they think taxpayers are? Silly me, we know the answer!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
5 years ago

aka bureaucrap; odorless, tasteless post-nutritive disposal substance.

Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Having trouble digesting this news item. It appears the Town is giving the Police Services their very own play money. It seems to say that while the Town will continue paying for the upkeep of the Business Services Unit of the local police, the police get to keep the profits generated by all those records checks.

Suddenly the recent news of the Police Services providing funding and bodies to the Legion Pipe Band falls into place. The first act of using their brand new slush fund? What a sweet deal, ostensibly to protect the taxpayer from unexpected shortfalls. In reality it’s unaccountable spending power turned over to police. No public consultation, not even prior notice. This Council apparently has no bounds!

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Correct! But it isn’t completely new. The police have been using the background checks slush fund to buy expensive toys — Segways, Harley, etc — for years and they never appear in the budget that Council approves. Gil uses the “Holdco Reserve” similarly. Many on Council do not trust the taxpayers so no public accountability at all!

5 years ago

Computers do strange things at times.

Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

In Ontario, the rules about what the Police Record Checks can reveal will change on November 1st.
“The Police Record Checks Reform Act, passed in December 2015 by a vote of 93-0 at Queen’s Park, will become law on Nov. 1, fundamentally changing the rules around what police can tell prospective employers, volunteer agencies and foreign governments about Ontarians.
The law, the first of its kind in Canada, will severely limit police disclosure of so-called “non-conviction records” — allegations sitting in police computers and notebooks that were never proven, as well as 911 mental health calls that police attended and logged.
As many as one in three Canadians have some form of non-conviction record sitting in police computers, according to research from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.”
Wonder if that will curtail the income for the BSU.
And yes there is competition. For example, will do the job in 24 hours for $59.00 on-line. Cobourg Police will do it for $30.00 if you live in Cobourg, but it takes 5-10 business days.

5 years ago

No high paid business managers in BSU? You might want to check on that.