Traffic fines add $2 million to coffers

Speeders gave a big hand to Red Deer city RCMP last year after generating more than $2 million in photo radar and red light tickets.

Speeders gave a big hand to Red Deer city RCMP last year after generating more than $2 million in photo radar and red light tickets.

The total amount of fines collected last year was $2,197,000, down slightly from $2,223,000 in 2009.

City of Red Deer Community Services director Colleen Jensen said the money is used to offset overall policing costs. The city’s overall policing budget is around $18 million, which includes municipal employee costs and building operations.

“When you see the difference (between 2010 and 2009), it’s not because we were giving out less tickets,” said Jensen on Wednesday.

“It’s because people aren’t paying their fines.”

Earlier this month, city council approved a second photo radar vehicle as part of the municipal operating budget for 2011. It is expected to generate a further $600,000 in revenue for six months or $1.2 million for the year, said Jensen.

The operational budget also included a $300,000 shortfall in traffic fine collection for 2011 because people aren’t paying up.

There is some recourse to collect owed fines when drivers renew their registration or driver’s licence. But some people choose not to renew their licence or registration and avoid paying fines.

The province has set up a Fine Enforcements program where drivers can have their income tax refunds, wages and bank savings garnisheed.

The program has operated in Edmonton since 2006 and expanded to Calgary last year.

Jensen said she hopes the Fines Enforcement program will be expanded to Red Deer.

“There’s a significant amount of money that needs to be paid so that would be helpful,” she said.

Alberta Justice spokesman Josh Stewart said the program will eventually be expanded across Alberta, but it’s a labour intensive endeavour.

For instance, the program was introduced in Calgary in June but it was not fully implemented until December, after all drivers were contacted by mail.

Stewart said it’s rare that people’s wages are garnisheed or other means available through the program are used.

“Usually, people receive the letter in the mail and then they respond by saying they better get this paid,” he said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com