Have you ever wondered what the fine amounts are for breaches of Provincial Statutes and how the fines are set?
They are set by the province and published in the form of regulations.
The Regulations create ‘fine categories’ and each category has a money amount attached to it. This simplifies things for Judges when they assess fines. For example: there are offences under different Provincial Statutes such as the Highway Traffic Act and the Liquor Control Act that fall under the same category for fine purposes. Generally speaking Categories A to F deal with offences committed by individuals while Categories G to J deal with offences committed by business owners or corporations.
Examples of offences in each category
Category A – fail to produce a driver’s licence
Category B – Drive left of dividing line
Category C – Fail to yield right of way
Category D – Disobey a traffic control device
Category E – Have or keep liquor in a vehicle other than authorized
Category F Drive an unregistered vehicle
Category G – Sell liquor other than authorized (boot legging)
Category H – Transport hazardous waste without a licence
Category I – Fail to report an environmental accident
Category J – Sell, buy, trade or barter the meat of a wild animal
The Province of Manitoba recently published the amended Summary Conviction Act Regulation that lays out fines for offences against Provincial Statutes. Table 1 (below) shows the 10 offence categories with category A offences being the least serious and Category J offences being the most serious.
The table shows that the actual base fines range between $37.00 for Category A offences all the way up to $1467.00 for Category J offences. That is just the basic fine though. To that you must add the various surcharges like court costs (45% of the base fine), the Victim Service Surcharge (20% of the base fine), and the Justice Services Surcharge (a flat rate of $50.00 per offence). Once all the surcharges are added the fines persons convicted must pay are $110.00 for Category A offences and $2470.00 for Category J offences. The table also shows how the fine revenue is broken down between the Province and the City. As indicated for the offences with lower fines, the Province takes a bigger cut and as the fines increase the City’s cut increases.
Table 1 Offence Category Table
|Offence Category||Base Fine||Court Costs||Victim Services Surcharge||Justice Services Surcharge||Total||City Portion %||Provincial Portion %|
Source: Table 1 was constructed with information obtained from the Province of Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Police Service.
For clarity and ease of reference the fine amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar and the split between the Province and the City to the nearest %.
Unlike other offences the fines for speeding offences are dynamic, i.e. they increase as the speed goes up. The basic fine for speeding is $7.70 per kilometre over the posted speed limit. Tickets are not normally issued until the threshold of 10 KPH over the speed limit is reached. Speeding offences that are committed in construction zones (when workers are present) are subject to a further $5.00 per kilometre surcharge for a total of $12.70 for each kilometre per hour over the posted speed limit. Table 2 shows the fine breakdown based on 5 specific speeds.
Table 2 Speeding Offences Table
|KPH over limit||Base Fine||Court Costs||Victim Services Surcharge||Justice Services Surcharge||Total||City Portion||Provincial Portion %|
Source: information compiled based on information contained in the Manitoba Summary Convictions Act (Regulations)
Note: All numbers rounded up to nearest dollar/per centage.
Now you know.
Election promises at both the civic and provincial level have become the defining vehicle in terms of determining police staffing.
Announcing proposed increases to police funding at election time is not a new thing. In the mid 1990’s the Filmon government made the first foray into this area by announcing that the Province would provide funding to expand the complement of the Winnipeg Police Service by 24 positions. This was a purely political decision made at the Provincial level without any prior consultation with the Winnipeg Police Service. As a matter of fact the Chief of the day was advised on the morning the announcement was made and asked to attend the announcement to serve as ‘wallpaper’ for the Premier’s announcement. The Chief of course, not wanting to ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’, attended and came away with an additional 2 million dollars for the police budget.
Over the years, announcing police funding increases at election time has become the norm. It has proven to be a sure-fire way to attract votes and win elections.
During the last civic election the Mayor used the same tactic. Mayor Katz pledged increases to both police and civilian staff and was endorsed by the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA). Some argued that the WPA endorsement was contingent on the commitment to increase police and staff positions while others believed the increase in staffing to be contingent on the WPA endorsement. Others insisted that the two issues were unrelated and the fact that the Mayor announced the staffing increase at the same time as the WPA endorsed the mayor was purely a coincidence.
As the current provincial election campaign gains traction it is interesting to see the bidding war that is developing as the two main contenders attempt to outbid each other (using our money) on the policing and law and order issue.
One of the major problems with politically motivated spending on policing is that additional money (positions) are allocated not by the police service but rather by the politicians to coincide with their current political priorities.
But that’s only partially the politicians fault. Blame must also be placed with the police executives.
In the absence of a well laid out policing and crime deduction strategy with specific goals and costs attached, politicians jump into the fray and set the agenda. To a degree they are simply filling a vacuum created by the lack of strategic operational leadership within policing.
As I have said before, what should be happening in terms of policing, crime reduction and police staffing is that politicians should clearly state their goals to police in terms of what they want accomplished, ie a percentage crime reduction across the board or in specific offence categories.
Police executives should devise a plan complete with broad goals, strategies and tactics that would be employed to accomplish the stated goals along with an outline of specific areas of responsibility within the police service. Such a plan would be accompanied with a price tag in terms of additional resources that would be required in terms of increase in personnel and other costs.
Once such a plan was developed politicians could decide if that is was they want and whether they want to fund it or not. If the plan is adopted and funded, accountability then exists between the police and the elected officials.
Until this happens we will continue to see money spent haphazardly, at election time, based on the political priorities of the day.
Remember Fantasy Island?
Tattoo: “Look boss, de plane, de plane!”
Mr. Roarke: “No Tattoo, that is not de plane. That is de Winnipeg Police Helicopter.”
The Winnipeg Police Helicopter, we are told, is now operational.
The on time criteria has not been met as it is about 5 months behind schedule. No word yet as to whether it is on budget.
However, step aside, all ye naysayers: the Police Service has come up with yet another potential use for the helicopter.
When it is not busy rescuing elderly confused males lost in the Assiniboine Park Forest, it will be used to fight the anticipated 2011 flood. Will it be used to deliver sand bags? No, it is too small for that. Will it be used to pluck people from the rooftops of their houses? No, it’s not equipped for that.
What will it do during the flood?
Seeing as it is jointly funded by the city and the province, it could be used to take the mayor and the premier on “rides” so they could view the devastation from topside. I’m not sure what the protocol is in terms of who has first dibs – the city because it bought the helicopter; or, the province because it pays for the pilot and the fuel. But I’m sure they will work that out.
In any event, can you visualize this: the Winnipeg Police helicopter, just a speck in the sky, approaches the flood-way gates where a throng of reporters are waiting. The helicopter lands, and the mayor and/or the premier get out quickly before the rotor blades stop turning (this allows their hair to get messed so they look like action heroes). They greet everyone, thank them for coming and launch into a speech describing the great things they are doing to protect Manitobans from devastation. Then, quickly back into the helicopter to save us from something else.
Great photo-op I agree but, at several thousand dollars an hour, a bit of an expensive ride.
Lets get real, this is Winnipeg not Fantasy Island. We have buses not light rail, we have the Moose not the Jets; the Blue Jays visited once but our everyday fare is the Goldeyes; and finally, we have Sam, not a visionary.
Enjoy the ride Sam and as always send us the bill – in one way or another, you always do.
What is Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Let’s look at it this way. There is a piece of property that is generating minimal tax revenue. If that property were developed and turned into, say, a shopping mall, the newly developed property would yield significant tax revenues. The upfront costs of the development are high and require borrowing. In order to pay back the borrowed money, the ‘tax increment’ (that being the difference between the amount of taxes collected prior to and after the development takes place) is designated to pay back the loan incurred to fund the development.
A simplistic depiction might look like this:
- Current taxes collected on the property $100
- Development costs $100,000
- Post development taxes $10,000
- Tax increment $10,000 – 100 = $9900
- For the first 10-15 years post development the city would use the tax increment ($9900) to pay back the development loan
- Once the loan is paid off, the taxes generated from the development would return to the city’s general revenue stream
History of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Although relatively new in Canada and especially Manitoba, TIF has been used in the United States for almost 60 years. In Manitoba the government introduced a bill in 2008 which led to the enactment of the Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act in 2009.
In a 2008 news release when the legislation was announced, the government indicated:
“Our priorities for TIF include support for the further development of Winnipeg’s inland port, rapid transit system, as well as affordable housing in downtown Winnipeg”.
The government further stated:
“Money collected from a community revitalization property would then be invested only in the same designated area”.
The press release concluded by saying:
“Tax increment financing is used in several American cities to support revitalization and renewal initiatives. In Manitoba these levies would be used to support economic development, community revitalization such as housing, social and cultural development and heritage preservation”.
The minister of the day also stated:
“It is our intent to consult with and report on the use of tax increment financing to ensure full accountability and support for our priorities”.
The Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act was passed in 2009.
General Assessment of Tax Increment Financing
In the United States TIF has been widely used as a tool to spur economic development in depressed areas. The general conclusion seems to be that if properly used, TIF can be a valuable tool.
There have been some general criticisms about TIF schemes. They include:
- designation of areas as TIF designated areas that would have been developed in any event even without designation;
- favouritism and special advantage for developers who are politically well-connected; and
- tax payers bearing the cost of additional public services needed to service the newly developed property.
As an early attempt at TIF, the Stadium Project, does not seem to fall in line with the stated goals and priorities announced in 2008 prior to the introduction of the legislation.
The tax increment ‘generated’ in the downtown area is being ‘spent’ in the south end of the city- not to develop an inland port, not to support rapid transit, not to create housing in the downtown. No, instead its being used to build a new stadium at the University of Manitoba.
Putting the power in the hands of the people who live with the consequences and pay the bills.
Americans are different from Canadians – we all know that.
Their system of government and governance is different as well. Americans are more likely to demand a direct say in what their governments do at all levels but especially at the local and state levels.
Canada has a different form of democracy, less direct, less hands on. We have a parliamentary system of government; America is a republic. Under both systems the representatives of the people, once elected, make decisions on our behalf; decisions that may or may not reflect the views and values of their constituents.
Referendums allow the people to have a direct say in what the law should be and which projects should be funded. What a novel idea.
In Canada referendums are rare. In the United States, referendums are common and used as tools to guide politicians in terms of what the people want.
The recent mid-term elections in the United States featured many local and State referendums. The following are of some interest.
In California, Proposition 19, if it had passed, would have seen the elimination of all criminal penalties for adult Californians (21 years of age) who planted marijuana plots up to 25 square feet or possessed up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. The proposition did not pass (54 % opposed) but organizers are already planning to put the issue back on the ballot for 2012.
In South Dakota, Measure 13 would have allowed for the medical use of marijuana . It was defeated with 60% of voters rejecting the measure.
In San Diego, Proposition D, which would have increased sales tax by one half a percent to fund municipal spending, was soundly defeated. In a bid to gain support for the measure, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders had been threatening dramatic cuts to public safety spending if Proposition D failed. It seems the people in San Diego voted against the measure because they did not trust officials to spend the money wisely.
And lastly, an issue that resonates in Winnipeg: In Houston, where 800,000 offence notices had been issued since 2006, just over 53 per cent of the votes rejected the continued use of photo radar. The revenue collected since its inception in Houston amounted to 44 million dollars.
Some Winnipegers might appreciate having a direct say on the issue of stadium funding. Again, what a novel idea, actually asking the people who will have to pay back the loan if they wish to borrow the money. This, as opposed to allowing millionaire developers and city and provincial politicians (who seem to have difficulty recognizing the difference between an “estimate” and a “wild guess”) making decisions and sending us the bill once all the back room dealing is done.
I sometimes get the feeling we are in a high stakes card game with a number of card sharks. The problem is the card sharks are playing with our money and we, the public, barely have a seat at the table . In such a scenario we need to know when, in the words from a popular song, we should “hold’em, fold’em, when to walk away and when to run”.
With the stadium funding issue, running might be a good option. Clear the deck, get new players to the table and deal a new hand. Never mind that a hole has already been dug. It would not be the first time governments have hired people to dig holes and then fill them in.
Perhaps politicians might be surprised with the results if they engaged in open and meaningful consultations with the public. Given the right time, right location, and most importantly the right players, Winnipegers might just support a major investment of public money to build an appropriate stadium.