Tantramar Town Council appears to have rejected a recommendation from the RCMP as well as from Treasurer Michael Beal by voting to increase the number of full-time officers in the Sackville detachment by four instead of three.
In their presentation to council on Tuesday, RCMP officials recommended three additional officers for Tantramar under a new municipal policing service agreement (MPSA).
That would bring the number to 13, up from the 10 officers who policed the former town of Sackville.
The RCMP said it would also bring the total cost next year to $2.3 million up from $1.8 million.
Treasurer Michael Beal, who agreed with the RCMP recommendation, told council that Tantramar was being billed for only eight officers instead of 10 apparently because of vacancies caused by illness and problems recruiting new members.
He said under a new MPSA with Tantramar, the RCMP would have up to a year after the contract starts to bring the full complement up to 13. (The RCMP is hoping to have the new contract in place on April 1, 2024.)
Beal warned that adding an extra officer could cost an additional $170,000, although he acknowledged it’s unlikely the RCMP would be able to recruit one until sometime in 2025.
However, if they managed to do it, he said, the town would either have to raise taxes or make budget cuts.
In a motion seconded by Councillor Barry Hicks, Councillor Allison Butcher moved to increase the number of officers in the new contract to 13.
Councillor Matt Estabooks (again, seconded by Barry Hicks) moved to increase the number to 14.
In a confusing turn of events, Mayor Black said the original motion had been amended even though council did not vote to amend it.
It pushed ahead instead to approve the Estabrooks motion by a vote of 8 to 1 with Butcher casting the only nay vote.