Administrative Updates    Item #   8. b.            
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 10/09/2018  
Title: Automated Traffic Enforcement Review - Wolanski
Department: Community & Protective Services
Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life
Citizens feel safe within their communities.

Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to provide Council with an update on Automated Traffic Enforcement and seek input on next steps.

Proposed Motion
That the report on Automated Traffic Enforcement be received as information.

Background/Analysis
Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) was introduced in the City of Spruce Grove in 2009.  Since its inception, the evidence has strongly supported its stated goal of safety enhancements.  There have been some suggestions in a variety of formats that Council may have a desire to make a decision on whether or not to keep ATE in the City of Spruce Grove.  Administration has received no formal direction on whether this is accurate and if so, what would be the desired timelines, format, and information needed in order for Council to make said decision.

Some of the information that has been presented to Council in and around ATE is as follows:
  • Administration presented Council with information on ATE as part of their Council orientation.  
  • Administration indicated they would work on a policy regarding ATE for Council's consideration.
  • The Government of Alberta (GOA) ordered a review of ATE and City staff provided the required information in a timely manner.  There has been no indication as to when the results of the GOA review will be released despite repeated attempts to get this answered.
  • The City did an Operational Effectiveness Review on ATE and provided the results to Council in May of 2017.  Administration is either working on or has completed all recommendations in the review.
  • A Corporate Plan initiative was included in 2018 to do a review of the cost implications around bringing the service of ATE "in house" vs. contracting it out.  This initiative and report has been completed and can be brought forward to Council.
  • The 2018 annual Protective Services report was just provided to Council which included several statistics and updated information in regards to ATE.  In the RFD for the report presentation it mentioned that administration was waiting for the result of the GOA review before bringing forward further recommendations for consideration.  The concern is that administration or Council may move forward with changes and updates without knowing if said changes will be contrary to any that may be mandated by the GOA. 
Roles and Responsibilities

As has been mentioned to Council previously, Council's role in regards to ATE is to determine if it is a "tool in the toolbox" related to traffic safety.  In other words, Council makes a determination on whether to utilize ATE or not in the community but has no authority over its implementation/application.  This has been confirmed by the Solicitor General's office.  Authority for ATE rests with the "police of jurisdiction".  Much of our program has been delegated to Safe City/ES; however, the RCMP still oversee and have responsibility for its application.  The City is also audited regularly to ensure compliance with legislation and guidelines.  

In House Review

As mentioned, administration can bring forward the completed report on the Automated Traffic Enforcement Cost Analysis as part of Council's consideration of whether to continue ATE or bring forward separately.  This was already in the process of being completed; however, was being held until more information was available regarding the timing of the GOA review.  At a very high level the report includes or does not include the following:
  • The report was a cost analysis only of bringing the service "in house".  
  • The report does not include an analysis or recommendation on the merits/issues, beyond financial, of the service being brought "in house".  There are many different viewpoints to consider in this regard which will be outlined by administration at a later date.  In short, the idea that bringing the service "in house" will reduce the perception of the service being only for revenue generation has not proven to be accurate.  In fact, the opposite is often the case.
  • Bringing the service "in house" would require 7.5 FTE's in order to manage the service effectively.  
  • Bringing the service "in house" would require independent office space that the City currently does not have.
  • Bringing the service "in house" would require large capital and equipment purchases.  Most of the significant costs are upfront but there would be some ongoing costs.
  • Annual operating costs would be approximately $1,700,000 including estimated debenture payments on the capital borrowing that would be required.  Coincidentally, this is within roughly $50,000 of the actual amount spent on the City's contractor in 2017.
  • The report does not include an analysis on fixed and variable costs.  In other words, it does not take into account the impact on operational costs if tickets are reduced or increased (i.e. FTE requirements).  It is based on current service levels and current tickets.  It does not factor in any possible changes in technology that would require increased capital.
Decision on ATE

As mentioned, administration is seeking clarification on what Council requires in regards to making further decisions on ATE.  Some specific questions are:
  1. Is the decision/discussion on whether to keep ATE or not?
  2. Does Council require additional information in order to make said decision?  If so, what information?  Administration provides annual reports related to ATE and has proposed additional information and updates (i.e. policy on ATE).  Administration is hesitant to continue working on recommendations from the ATE OER and other enhancements if the possibility exists to discontinue the program.
  3. What process and/or timelines does Council wish to see?  
Options/Alternatives
NA
Consultation/Engagement
Dependent upon the direction provided.  
Implementation/Communication
Dependent upon the direction provided.
Impacts

Fiscal Impact
Financial Implications:
The following indicates the last two full years of ATE revenue and costs:
  Revenue Cost Net
2016 $5,213,361 $2,474,323 $2,739,038
2017 $4,644,215 $1,752,305 $2,891,910

Current forecasts, including over the long term, do not show an increase in the net revenue benefit to the City.  Despite projected increases in population and number of vehicles on the road, the goal and expectation is for violations per hour to continue to decrease thus keeping the net revenue the same.  With assessment growth going towards net costs associated with said growth and new initiatives, the current revenue associated with ATE is the equivalent of a 7.2% tax implication if discontinued.  This does not take into account additional costs or service levels required (i.e. more Peace Officers for manned traffic enforcement) that comes with a net cost.

Overall, the City of Spruce Grove spent $15,562,833 in 2017 on Protective Services with $9,404,237 in offsetting revenues (ATE, AHS contract, other fines/permits).  The net "cost" of protective services for the City is therefore $6,158,596.  This is before the addition of 2 RCMP officers approved for 2018 and proposed for 2019 as well as 8 additional firefighters proposed for 2019.  

Of note, the last analysis completed in June 2017 indicated that approximately 79% of violations were "non-residents".  Administration's best guess is that of the remaining 21% there are a number of others that have a Spruce Grove address but don't actually live here making the estimated range of non-resident violations between 80-90%.