Local businesses voice concerns over vote to switch to Windsor police

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A number of local businesses were represented at town council Monday night with concerns over the town’s choice to switch from Amherstburg police to Windsor police.

Derek Didone, co-owner of County Towing, said he was representing a group of Amherstburg businesses and named Joe Meloche Ford, Racicot Chrysler, Uptown Body, Heritage Tire and Amherstburg GM.

“Over the years we have each built strong relationships with the community and the municipality,” said Didone.  “It is no secret that the Town of Amherstburg and its police service have always supported local small business.”

Didone said “it is clear that council had to make a very difficult decision” when choosing to contract the police service out to Windsor and “while we are confident that careful consideration was exercised when making this controversial decision, we have concerns that the potential for a negative economical impact on local small business may have been overlooked.”

The Amherstburg Police Service spends “tens of thousands of dollars on our products and services every year,” Didone stated. He said local businesses are given the opportunity to supply everything from office stationery to police cruisers.

“For many years my company has been contracted by the department to provide towing, recovery and impoundment services,” said Didone. “By making this change, we feel that we are at risk financially. As entrepreneurs, we understand it is important to save money where you can. This will apply under the new structure of the police service as well. Financial saving can be had when buying in bulk, consolidating services or elimination.”

Didone questioned whether local dealerships will be given an opportunity to bid on the sale of new cruisers and also wondered if local repair shops will lose a source of revenue if Windsor police maintains their vehicles in-house.

“There are local businesses such as mine that hold service contracts with the current department. When entering into a contract you make decisions and invest in equipment, stock and employees to uphold

our end of the agreement,” said Didone. “Will contracts like mine be upheld for the remainder of the term or will it become void in the transition? After all, I’m certain Windsor police have contracts in place for the same products and services.”

The concern of many business owners, Didone added, are even though there are savings for the municipality, will those savings be at the businesses’ expense?

“We all know that the Town of Amherstburg supports its community and local small business like no other,” he added. “Rest assured that you will have our continued support through this transition and hope that we have yours.

Didone asked what provisions will be included in the 20-year Windsor police contract to assure local small business owners will not lose revenue to businesses outside of the municipality. He also asked if local businesses can be assured “that a proportionate amount of Windsor police budgetary dollars will be spent on goods and services in this community?”

CAO John Miceli fielded both questions and said that Windsor police has its own procurement policy but the town can make recommendations to them. Miceli said the city has been good with listening to a number of issues with regards to the proposal.

“We can talk to them,” said Miceli. “I can’t guarantee anything.”

As for the second question, Miceli said local preference clauses are not legal.

Town council simply received Didone’s presentation.

Didone told the media afterword the result Monday night “is what it is” “but we’ll see what happens.”

“I’m sure they will go to bat for us so we can continue to do work out here. I hope Windsor is listening,” he added.

 

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