Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey is urging local municipalities to ensure they’re getting enough revenue from wind energy companies following the discovery that policing costs for wind turbine properties are now included in Ontario Provincial Police’s municipal bills.
Politicians in the Township of Frontenac Islands, near Kingston, first raised the red flag this month after they saw close to a $26,000 increase to their most recent OPP bill.
After township staff investigated further, they discovered the increase was due to the cost of policing wind turbines on Wolfe Island, according to The Kingston Whig-Standard.
Under the OPP’s new billing model, municipalities are being charged a base service cost per wind turbine property – like they’re already charged for residential, commercial and industrial properties – if these wind turbine properties are already taxed as commercial and industrial, OPP Sgt. Peter Leon confirmed Friday.
Calls for service – the second component of the new municipal OPP billing model – are only being charged if police have to respond to these wind turbine properties for service, Leon added in an email.
Rural Lambton County municipalities are now investigating what the impact of this little-known change is having – if any – on their own communities’ policing budgets.
“We’re still looking into it,” Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber said Saturday. “We still don’t have a clear answer on what’s happening with it.”
Close to 150 wind turbines – all part of two large-scale wind farm projects – have come online in Lambton Shores in the last two years.
The municipality has already finalized financial agreements with the wind companies involved in those projects, Weber noted.
He cannot foresee the situation improving for municipalities unless the province decides wind turbine properties shouldn’t be included as part of the property count used in the OPP’s new billing formula.
In an email, Leon stated the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is indeed currently reviewing the inclusion of wind turbines in the property count being used in the OPP billing model.
“Once a decision has been made and if there are any changes to this count, this will be communicated to all municipalities policed by the OPP,” he added.
Lambton Shores – like several other municipalities across the county – has declared itself an unwilling host of wind turbines.
Bailey agreed that municipalities’ hands are almost tied in this situation because they cannot stop the construction of an approved renewable energy project.
“My bottom line is I’ve always sided with the municipalities where if they’re not a willing host they need to be respected by the provincial government, and if at the end of the day they have to take these wind turbines, the municipalities need to be sure if they’re being assessed for the cost of policing – which is something new – they need to do whatever they can do to protect themselves and their taxpayers… and that they’re going to end up with enough revenue from these wind turbines to pay these extra costs.”
Bailey anticipates policing costs for wind turbines could become a hot-button issue at the upcoming Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference because there has been little publicity over wind properties being counted in the relatively new OPP billing model that came into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
“It will be brought up and the province is going to have to answer to this because they’re the ones who allowed (wind turbines) to come in here and they seem to be encouraging more of them.”
[rest of article available at source]
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