A growing number of northern mayors say skyrocketing OPP costs are going to drive their towns into bankruptcy.
And one is threatening to stop paying, if the provincial police don't drop their prices.
Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis said the cost of safety and security has doubled in the last five years. The town now pays 50 cents of every tax dollar to the OPP.
Cochrane is threatening to stop paying its policing bill at the end of September, unless a new deal is worked out.
Over in Little Current, the OPP are charging 23 per cent more to patrol the Manitoulin Island town. Mayor Joe Chapman said that reality has forced council to raise taxes about $150 per household, in addition to hiking ice-time fees and cutting back library hours.
"We can't afford to go on like this," Chapman said. "There's going to have to be some major change … if the Liberal government tries to do this to again next year, there's going to be a financial crisis. Not just in our community, but in almost every community."
Politis said he's taking a stand on behalf of all small towns in the province.
"If we don't deal with this issue, there are going to be municipalities in Ontario that are going to be going bankrupt," Politis said. "And we can't in good conscience — or legally under the Municipal Act — allow that to happen."
OPP superintendent Richard Philbin said what's changed is the province is no longer paying some of the bill and towns are seeing the real costs of policing. And those costs for salaries and equipment are going up.
"We will, together with municipalities, get through this very difficult time," Philbin said.
Philbin noted if Cochrane threatens to stop paying its policing bill, things wouldn't change much.
He said Ontario law compels the OPP to police towns that don't handle it themselves — meaning the OPP is the back-up for itself.