City council is concerned over a potential bite into its RCMP budget.
Burnaby's staff is tasked with finding out if the drop from $30 million in the past to $10 million in the city's share of a certain provincial fund will have a negative impact on its RCMP budget this year.
In a recent letter from MLA Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, the City of Burnaby learned it will receive $448,541 from its share of this year's traffic fine revenue sharing program.
However, Coun. Colleen Jordan said that traditionally the city has received about $2.5 million or more in some years.
"Last year the letter said, in March, we are pleased to give you your share of the $30 million from traffic fine revenue," Jordan said at Monday night's council meeting. "And before, they were pleased to share with us our share of $30 million in traffic fine revenue. So to me, that's a lot less money. That our share of $10 million as opposed to our share of $30 million is a significant decrease in funds."
Jordan said after reading the letter she scoured through the 2013 B.C. budget and noted that Bennett's ministry grant to local government would be going down from $250 million last year to $103 million this year, but it would be reinstated in 2016 by $40 million.
"That to me signals that they've really cut the traffic fine revenue sharing that they're supposed to give us," she added.
Jordan said that over the years, staff has been confused over this issue because the payments are intermittent.
"They didn't seem to be based on any specific number. They don't relate. I learned from the city manager that they have nothing to do with fine revenue, they're just a number that the government puts in the budget," she added.
Jordan asked staff to look into the issue and come back with a report on how this will impact the city financially.
"If this is correct, that is a significant hit to our financial plan and budget for the year," she said. "I'm very nervous about this and I would really like to refer this issue to our staff to find out if I'm right, or, in this case, I'd love to be wrong."
Mayor Derek Corrigan said the money from the traffic fine revenue has been used to hire police officers in the past, which is what the province asked of the municipalities.
"I hope that's not right because this is a big hit to the RCMP budget," Corrigan said. "We had used all of that money to hire police officers as the province asked us to do.
"There's been some suggestion that it'll be a quarterly payment and we're going to receive the same amount, but we need to sort that out."
Corrigan said he does not want any unnecessary reaction to come from this until all the facts are known.
"Let's not say the sky is falling until we're sure it's falling," he said. "But it's good for staff to report back."
Minister Bennett did not return the Burnaby Now's request for comment by press deadline.