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.
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:
- Direct BSU Costs
- 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.”
- 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
- 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.
- Budget for 2018 – 19 January 2018
- Memo from Board chair and proposed MOU re Non-Taxation Proceeds – “Non-Taxation Proceeds” refers to revenue obtained from a source that is not taxation.