By: Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
East Central Alberta Review
As inflation continues to exert pressure on Albertans’ lives, the Town of Bashaw agreed with a request to increase fees for the community’s peace officer contractor. The decision was made at the Oct. 18 regular meeting of council.
Town chief Administrative officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller presented councillors with a request from Camrose County Manager of Protective and Emergency Services Sgt. Mike Kuzio. Kuzio was requesting an increase in payment from the town for providing community peace officer (CPO) services in Bashaw.
“…Camrose County has not increased the fees for service to provide peace officer services within the Town of Bashaw since the commencement of this agreement back in 2015,” stated Kuzio’s letter dated Oct. 13.
“Camrose County has completed a cost guide survey with a number of municipalities who also provide peace officer services through a similar service agreement. Due to the information received from the survey and the continuing inflation all municipalities are facing, this fee will increase from $95 per hour to $110 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2024.” Kuzio added if Bashaw instead chose to terminate the peace officer agreement they could do so through a written notice included in the contract.
During the discussion Fuller, referring to the quoted price of $110 per hour, described the increase as “reasonable.” She also noted that Bashaw’s contract with Camrose County requires the peace officers to visit Bashaw twice a month from January to March, once a week between April and October and back to twice a month in November and December, spending an hour in the community each time they visit.
Readers should note peace officers can possess a wide variety of authorities in Alberta including bylaw complaints and traffic issues.
The CAO stated CPO services in Bashaw are essentially “complaint-driven,” and when a complaint comes in from the public which CPOs are required to handle, the complaint is forwarded to Kuzio’s department at Camrose County which handles it from there.
Coun. Kyle McIntosh asked what level of direction the Town of Bashaw has once a complaint is forwarded to Camrose County, to which Fuller responded, “Very minimal.”
However, Fuller stated she feels Camrose County’s officers provide good service to Bashaw, and there have only been one or two issues over the years. “It has been fairly successful,” said Fuller.
During the discussion, it was noted that the time spent in a court of law stemming from charges laid does count against the number of hours peace officers are required to spend in Bashaw.
While councillors discussed adjusting the peace officer’s pay rate Fuller added that the peace officer service level, which includes duties expected of peace officers working in Bashaw, hasn’t been reviewed in a while either.
Coun. McIntosh stated that Bashaw residents have asked him about the amount of time peace officers spend in town to which McIntosh answered he noted peace officers may be possibly working in Bashaw longer than one hour at a time. However, he suggested that if a peace officer is in Bashaw for a personal reason perhaps they shouldn’t have the peace officer vehicle with them.
Fuller responded that if a member of the public has a complaint, they should contact the town office; she also pointed out a peace officer may live in Bashaw and she wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions.
McIntosh responded that the belief is that Bashaw gets good value for its peace officers.
Coun. Bryan Gust stated that he’s used the peace officer service and had an excellent experience.
Councillors passed a resolution accepting the increased Camrose County peace officer rates.