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Price of vandalism high in the Town of Erin

by Mike Robinson

ERIN - Over the past three years, it is estimated that vandalism has cost Erin residents close to $75,000.

Earlier this year, councillors requested a report on the costs associated with vandalism to provide more information to ratepayers.

Town manager Lisa Hass said she consulted with various municipal departments to compile that information.

Hass said the amount is “not exact”  because the town does not have a line item in its budget to deal with such costs.

Roads department

The vandalism cost is about $5,000 per year on average.

Hass said associated costs include staff time, sign removal and graffiti removal.

Specific items included remedial work on the Deer Pit channels as panels had been placed on or in the ground and repositioned due to individuals lifting and placing rocks under them.

That cost alone was $1,500 and included a full day with three men and an excavator, plus equipment rental.

In addition, $2,500 was spent for cameras for the roads department shop.

Water department

The cost is $1,000 per year on average.

Hass said those are related to staff time, graffiti removal and light replacements.

Recreation department

Hass said costs are based over a three-year period to give council a better idea of the amount of money spent.

The cost was $44,300 over three years.

She cited numerous items affecting the recreation department from the installation of cameras at Victoria Park, Barbour Field and the community centre to various door and window repairs or replacements, washroom repairs, soccer net repairs and other items such as removing paint, equipment repair, seeding, topsoil, bench and table replacements and repairs, and light and kiosk repair.

Overall impact to town

Hass suggested that overall, based on a three-year average, vandalism costs amounted to $74,310 - or roughly $24,770 per year.

Councillor John Brennan said $25,000 per year is a lot of money.

Hass pointed out the amount could be higher, but staff generally have not kept track of vandalism costs - but that could be done in the future.

“It’s surprising how quickly things add up,” she said.

Hass added because each vandalism incident incurred damages under $5,000 the town has to pay the costs because the town’s insurance policy has a $5,000 deductible.

Mayor Lou Maieron asked that vandalism costs be tracked by each department.

Councillor Barb Tocher asked if that could be made into an annual report.

Council subsequently directed staff to prepare a tracking method to record vandalism costs quarterly.

Maieron added, “Now that council knows the costs, the big question is ‘Are we going to do anything about it’?”

He said he was not looking for a response that night.

“But this is  becoming more and more serious and dangerous, especially when we are looking at the removal of stop signs.”

He said there is a big difference between someone doing something stupid, and someone who does something stupid that could result in serious injuries.

Councillor Deb Callaghan recommended the report be brought to the community policing committee and forwarded to the OPP to provide an idea of how much the issue is costing residents.

January 6, 2012


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