by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Residents now know how much eliminating the photo radar contract early with ITS/Global Traffic Group would cost taxpayers, following a report to council given by David Schaefer, Director of Community and Protective Services. Schaefer estimates terminating the contract before its April 2019 conclusion would cost the town $369,200, and would cause a gross revenue hit of $581,172 over the next 19 months (until the conclusion of the contract).
The reported revenue hit reflects the gross revenue from photo enforcement. His report did not outline what Morinville’s share of that gross revenue would be. Changes to the photo enforcement policy last year made changes whereby all revenues must now be applied to safety projects and not general revenue.
Schaefer also included options for council on what to replace the contract with to maintain the photo radar program in Morinville. The first option would develop a program in-house through Town administration, which would require provincial approval. Schaefer does not provide an estimated cost saying there are many “unknown and known variables”.
Another option in Schaefer’s report would be to create a dedicated Peace Officer Traffic Unit in Morinville, requiring the hiring of two officers, one support staff and the purchase of a new vehicle. Schaefer estimated the start-up costs for this program would approximately be $400,000, also noting that the program would require additional operational funding from the tax base not required by the current photo radar contract.
Councillor Stephen Dafoe asked administration for a report on this data in June and thanked Schaefer for preparing for the report.
Dafoe disputed Schaefer’s estimates for starting a dedicated Peace Officer Traffic Unit; however, saying “I think $400,000 is a little high to do it in-house.”
Council had no further discussion of motions on the information, swiftly accepting the report unanimously for information.
Earlier in the day, council reviewed their photo enforcement policy during their policy committee meeting. Dafoe said those amendments to the policy would be coming forward at the Aug. 29 meeting as well as an appearance by the RCMP Detachment Commander to discuss how the Detachment plans to assign hours to the various enforcement locations.