TCAPS (Taber Community Action and Prevention Society) is a local group of concerned citizens and representatives from social agencies who work towards improving social programs and access to social programs in our community. The Taber Police Service is represented on our board and many of the members of our society work closely with the police service during the course of our work. Even without these connections the most recent news of the Taber Police Service budget cut concerns us a great deal.
We are aware of the wonderful community policing TPS provides and our concern is that the cuts will affect that service. We fear that if the proposed cuts occur, it is likely that the Student Resource Officer (SRO) position will be terminated. Without having statistics to back our claim, we do feel that having that service in the schools promotes crime prevention.
The youth create a positive and healthy relationship with law enforcement which benefits the community in the long run. That service promotes a safe environment within the schools and a manner to solve problems before they become a criminal matter. To lose the SRO would be a terrible loss, not just for the school community, but for the entire community.
Another concern we have is the manner in which the decision was made. We are aware that all departments were asked to submit budgets to fall within the 1.5 per cent property tax increase and all departments did so. Then four people made a budget decision, without consultation with interested parties, and it seems, without consideration of its consequences.
To quote the article in the Lethbridge Herald on December 9, “Ken Holst, chair for the Taber Police Commission, said he and the rest of commission were surprised by council’s 4-3 decision, and that council had given no warning the cut could be coming prior to the preliminary budget meeting. ‘It was a very unexpected turn.”
“We had presented our budget with absolutely no questions and no opposition to it prior. To have the cut done out of the blue was very shocking.”
How can a decision like this be made out of the blue? We understand that the town has fiscal responsibilities to the taxpayer and we appreciate the difficult decisions council members must make. But we don’t appreciate Mayor DeVlieger’s comment in the same article “In time of need, people can become a lot more creative when their money gets tight.”
We don’t want town council to get creative when it comes to essential services. We don’t want town council to get creative when it comes to the protection of our community. We want those decisions to be well thought out, made with consultation, and with forward thinking.
We are aware that making these decisions are within your mandate as town councilors. It is our hope, however, that you reconsider this decision. It is our hope that you have the proper consultations, discussions, and considerations before you make creative decisions.
If after the proper work is done and you still decide to make this cut, then that is your right to do so. We do feel however, that upon further look, you will see that this cut is not in the best needs of the citizens of Taber, the citizens whom you represent.
Vice President TCAPS