Jablonski supports surcharge to search auto database

The provincial government made a reasonable choice to dip into the City of Red Deer’s motor vehicle ticket revenue, says Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski.

Mary Anne Jablonski

Mary Anne Jablonski

The provincial government made a reasonable choice to dip into the City of Red Deer’s motor vehicle ticket revenue, says Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski.

Jablonski, also minister of Seniors and Community Supports, said she was aware of the $15 fee Service Alberta is now charging Alberta municipalities for each registered vehicle owner name it provides for parking, speeding and photo radar tickets.

And she’s OK with it.

“The government fees haven’t increased since 2002 and the cost of providing these services has increased by 164 per cent since then,” said Jablonski.

Service Alberta, the department responsible for providing motor vehicle and related services, felt it couldn’t continue without recovering its costs, Jablonski added.

“There has been an increasing demand for the information from municipalities across Alberta,” she said.

The City of Red Deer is joining some 30 municipalities across the province in a lobbying effort to press the provincial government to stop the fee or at least delay it.

On Monday, city council called upon administration to work with other municipalities and the AUMA on ensuring municipalities are properly consulted by the province.

Red Deer city council said they didn’t learn of the new fee until mid-March, just a couple weeks before the April 1 fee was to go into place.

The concern is that they’ll have to find ways to replace the lost revenue after passing the municipal budget earlier this year.

Potentially, the city could lose about $720,000 this year — slightly over $350,000 on the RCMP side for photo radar and red light ticket and nearly $370,000 on the parking ticket side for the Inspections and Licensing Department.

During Monday’s council meeting, Curtis said he understands that MLAs — Jablonski, and Cal Dallas for Red Deer South — were caught off guard.

Jablonski spoke with Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk about Red Deer’s concern.

“I fully understand that this puts a little bit of pressure on the municipalities,” she said.

But she added that the financial figures are significant — a total of $221 million was collected through traffic enforcement fines and the municipalities received $109 million of that, excluding parking violations. With this new fee, the province is expected to generate about $12 million.

Police will not be charged for searches on routine roadside checks.

Dallas couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com