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How big a hit, if any, the City budget wlll take because of an unexpected RCMP pay raise won't be known until a report is presented to council later this month.

The news came as a shock to many on Kamloops council, who only learned of the raise via the media Friday morning.

Although the Harper government has assured the province the raise won't impact policing costs in B.C., politicians cried foul at how the matters been handled.

"This is a surprise and I think the province is saying it's a surprise to them, too," said Coun. Pat Wallace. "Getting a heads up is kind of important. Getting a heads up after the fact doesn't help."

Policing is a big-ticket item in the City's budget. Wallace said council just set its spending for the coming year and an 11th-hour increase could play serious havoc with finances.

"It's unnerving," she said.

Mayor Peter Milobar said the City figures for cost escalation when it puts a budget together. Staff is examining the RCMP contract to see if the raise is within the amount that's been budgeted for.

"It's still a little bit early to say what it will or won't definitively cost the City," he said.

Milobar expects the report will be ready for discussion at council's next meeting April 17.

Neither the province nor municipalities were pleased when the Tories presented the RCMP contract as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. With this latest development, Milobar expects a meeting of the new Contract Management Committee - which was formed to review the cost of the RCMP contract - on May 1 will be a spirited one, he said.

Attorney General Shirley Bond has assured Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger the RCMP is reducing expenses so the raises are unlikely to increase costs in B.C.

Bond said the province is asking Ottawa for a clarification as soon as possible.

Councillors Donovan Cavers and Nancy Bepple don't like the way the matter has been handled. Bepple said the City's budget is set and any additional costs will be the taxpayers' burden.

Cavers said municipal politicians should have been consulted about the raise before the contract was agreed to.

"It's not a very good relationship, when a program is run between different levels of government, to leave something like that out," he said.

Coun. Marg Spina said public safety is important and she has no problem paying the RCMP more.

The development comes just weeks after six provinces, including B.C., and three territories signed a new 20-year policing deal with Ottawa.

B.C. had threatened to ditch the Mounties and set up its own provincial police force if Ottawa didn't meet its demands for a greater say in how the RCMP manages its local operations.

Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender, who sat as an observer during the talks, said he found out about the wage hikes earlier this week and then informed the province.

? Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News