Edmonton

Taking over photo radar, drives up costs for city

The city of Edmonton hoped to gain ground when it took over the photo radar program in 2007, but a new report from the city auditor shows it came out way behind.

City staff says photo radar program now operating as advertised

Taxpayers were not on the hook for the initial cost of taking over the program because of the increased revenue brought in by the photo radar tickets between 2007 and 2014.

The city of Edmonton hoped to gain ground when it took over the photo radar program in 2007, but a new report from the city auditor shows it came out way behind.

When the city took over the program eight years ago, councillors of the day hoped to save money by cutting out the middleman.

They anticipated the cost per violation would be about $10.70, but the actual cost was about 75 per cent higher, according to auditor David Wiun's report released on April 9.

"It took six years for the program to achieve a cost per violation that was lower than in 2007," Wiun wrote in the report. 

The cost of getting the right equipment and software was more than 200 per cent higher than expected as well.

The city had hopes of buying a software 'off-the-shelf', but staff couldn't find a provider who didn't want a cut of the revenue, stated the report. 

So the city developed their own software at $4.6 million--  a much higher cost than initially projected.

But, city staff say the program is now operating as advertised, and the cost per violation is even lower than projected in 2007.

"This confirms that the decision to bring the program in-house was sound and the benefits are greater than initially projected," wrote administration in a report to council.

Taxpayers were not on the hook for the initial cost of taking over the program because of the increased revenue brought in by the photo radar tickets between 2007 and 2014.

The number of tickets issued from 2007 to 2014 jumped almost nine times from 74,000 to 620,000 tickets. The auditor said in his report the increase can be linked to the installation of more photo enforcement equipment being able to capture more people breaking the law. 

City councillors will discuss Wiun's findings at an audit committee meeting on Wednesday.

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