By Trevor Busch
Taking over as chair of the Taber Municipal Police Commission, Martin Sorensen admits to a learning curve but wants to strike the right balance between quality law enforcement and fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer.
Nominated at the commission’s Jan. 15 meeting, Sorensen was elected unanimously by his fellow commission members. Sorensen takes on the role with the recent departure of long-serving chair Ken Holst.
“Obviously, oversight of the police is very important,” said Sorensen. “That is one of the main rolls of the police commission. We had a very strong chair in the past, Mr. Ken Holst, who was there for nine years, and was chair for many of those years. They’re big shoes to fill. He was also a police officer prior, so he has certain experience in policing. So those are big shoes to fill, but I’m just going to try to continue to do as we are required to do, which is oversee the police service, specifically the police chief, and those rules.”
With the 2020 budget for the Taber Police Service creeping up on $4 million ($3,929,651) and the TPS adding two additional officers to its current complement of 15, the cost factor involved in high-quality policing is never far beyond the vision of taxpayers.
“The public may have a concern with the cost, but they also have a problem with our town taxes. We’re always concerned with how much we’re paying for everything,” said Sorensen. “Policing is a fairly large item in the town’s budget, so obviously there’s a concern there. I think it’s very important that we try to strike a balance between quality policing and doing it in as tight a budget as possible. That is something the police commission is directly involved in, because we do help set the budget. It’s a very important question, and it’s something that the commission will be tackling this year. I’m not sure what we’re going to do, because we obviously want quality policing in this town, in this province, and this country, and there is a cost to that. It’s a balancing act.”
While determining the right fiscal balance is important, Sorensen indicated the commission will still look to pinch pennies where it can.
“I am also a taxpayer in this town. I’m also concerned about taxes, which typically have a tendency to go up. So that is definitely a concern of mine. I’m not looking to pay any more taxes than I need to, just like any other member of this community. We will do our best as a commission to keep costs to a minimum.”
Sorensen joined the commission in April 2019 for a two-year term that expires on Dec. 31, 2020. Sorensen has a BA in Commerce from the University of Alberta, and has worked at Ar-Tech Coating since 1989.
“I think it’s still a bit of a learning curve experience that I’m going to be moving forward with. I wasn’t anticipating being the chair. I’m just trying to run the commission to its stated goals (and) follow the municipal police commission manual.”