Traffic ticket ‘red flag’: SD&G has ‘financial difficulty’ with revenue

In this February 2016, file photo, SD&G CFO Vanessa Metcalfe makes a presentation to council. Metcalfe has pointed out a red flag with revenue within its court system. Fine revenue is down 25 per cent in the first quarter compared to last year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – The head of the United Counties finance department says there’s a “red flag,” with revenue way off its forecast within the Provincial Offences Act (POA) office.

The county administers the POA court and processes traffic tickets and fines for distracted driving, liquor licences infractions and trespassing for the City of Cornwall and SD&G.

“Tickets being issued are dropping significantly and, at this point, we’re approximately 25 per cent lower than where we were a year ago,” CFO Vanessa Metcalfe told council Monday.

The county is budgeting on bringing in $3.1 million in gross fine revenue this year. Last year, the fine revenue was $3,141,101. Operating the POA court is expected to cost $1.8 million in 2018, partially funded by the City of Cornwall ($601,800).

Metcalfe pointed to the tax rate stabilization reserve as a way to make up a revenue shortfall should it continue to track the same way through the remainder of the year.

Coun. Jim Bancroft asked why the ticket revenue was dropping so much.

The head of the SD&G O.P.P. police board suggested the province is running interference.

“Based on something that’s going on, I’d rather give you the answer next month, maybe,” said Coun. Dennis Fife, who is also chairman of the SD&G Police Services Board.

“A little part of that is, the province continually takes employees from here and takes them elsewhere and they are not replaced, and obviously that does make a difference,” he said.

More information is expected at next month’s county council meeting.

A call to a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services deferred questions to the O.P.P. in Orillia. A call to the provincial media relations coordinator for the O.P.P. was not returned.