Speeders helping to pay for Central Okanagan policing

Revenue from speeding and traffic fines returned to municipalities to help pay for cops.

Speeding drivers are helping fatten the coffers of local municipalities.

The province has announced its latest grants for Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna from the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing program.

While the municipalities already knew how much they would be getting for this year, 2013 and 2014 thanks to a change is the funding program by Victoria last year, the latest instalments include $1.2 million for Kelowna, which will get a total of $1.9 million this year, $359,737 (including $285,596 from the province’s Small Community and Regional District Grant program) for Lake Country, for a total of $596 million from both programs this year, and $68,732 for West Kelowna, part of a total for 2012 of $265,000.

The annual totals includes partial prepayment amounts coming for in 2013, said Lake Country chief financial officer Stephen Banmen.

He said while the change to the three-year guaranteed amount does not make a difference budget wise, it does give the municipalities “certainty” when it come to financial planning.

“It mean’s there is no guessing,” he said.

Unlike Kelowna and West Kelowna, Lake Country uses the money from the traffic fine revenue grants to help pay the total cost of policing in the municpality. If the amount was to drop, a tax increase would be needed to make up the difference if the municipality wanted to maintain the same level of service.

Both Kelowna and West Kelowna use the traffic fine revenue grant money to pay for specified aspects of policing, such as crime prevention in Kelowna and the cost of an RCMP liaison officer and auxiliary officers to conduct traffic enforcement in West Kelowna.

In B.C., municipalities with more than 5,000 residents pay 90 per cent of policing costs, with the province picking up the other 10 per cent. As a result, policing is often one of the biggest single costs in their budgets.

In addition the money for the municipalities, the Central Okanagan Regional District will receive $102,040 from the province’s Strategic Community Investment Fund, which allows communities to invest in their own priority projects.

The Small Community and Regional District Grants assist local governments in providing basic services,while the traffic fine revenues help municipalities pay for police enforcement costs.

The grants come from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets, and the amount of money a municipality receives is based on its contribution to total municipal policing costs.


Kelowna Capital News