The Nelson Police Board is looking to city council for help with the administrative burden that developed following the introduction of a new bylaw adjudication process.
The board approached council Monday night to present their provisional 2013 budget which asks for a $124,000 increase over last year.
In addition to the budget, director Mike McIndoe and police chief Wayne Holland voiced concerns around the cost of bylaw administration on the department.
Even though the City pays for two bylaw officers, the administration of the overall bylaw process is part of the police budget.
“What we’ve found is there is a significant cost in time, primarily to our officers who administer the bylaw process,” said McIndoe.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay a sergeant to explain to someone why they got a parking ticket when it could be a retired officer who comes back to the department on civilian wages.”
Last year, the city introduced the adjudication process in an effort to keep ticket disputes and fine collection from the courtroom, but Holland said the department couldn’t have guessed the workload that would come with the new system.
“We couldn’t have anticipated how much time our senior officers would need to spend to engage in just feeding back information to people who wish to dispute or inquire about why they got a ticket,” he said.
McIndoe said more than $600,000 is generated for the City through bylaw fine collection, and the board wants to see some of this revenue returned to the police department.
“Do the math. They hire two people and they generate over $600,000,” McIndoe told local media after Monday’s meeting. “It’s great, but of that $600,000 we should take a little off the top so that we are taking care of the administrative end at the police level.”
During the meeting councillor Deb Kozak said she was “disappointed” to hear from Holland and McIndoe that the process had become a burden to the department.
“When council approved the establishment of an adjudication process it was on the recommendation from the police department that it would streamline operations for them and streamline income coming in from fines and so many of the fines would not be going to court to be disputed,” she said.
“It was not our understanding that it would become an administrative burden to the police department.”
Both Kozak and Holland said now that a year has passed since the process was introduced, the police department and City should look at the successes and concerns that have developed in the past year.