A pilot project to increase the payment rate of outstanding fines is already showing results.
Perth County went to a system of using three collection agencies instead of one on Feb. 25, said Linda Becker, provincial offences co-ordinator. She cautioned it's early in the project but $33,000 has been collected between Feb. 25 and March 25. That’s more than double what was collected during the same period last year using a single agency.
The county is owed a whopping $5.5 million in fines.
There's $1 billion owing across the province.
“Honestly we have a lot of good, decent people who come in and pay their fines. Those folks aren’t the problem. We’re doing our best to collect our outstanding fines,” Becker said.
Before the county went to three agencies the collection rate was on par with last year. Up to the end of February, $205,651 in fines were collected compared to last year’s $227,802 during the same time period. There were 1,169 charges received compared to 1,643 during the same time last year.
“The larger courts have been using multiple collection agencies. Having three work in competition with each other may bring in more money, it might not. It’s still in the early stages but I’ve been quite pleased,” Becker said.
The province is well aware outstanding fines are a problem. On March 20, the government introduced Bill 34 which, if passed, will deny licence plates to drivers with unpaid fines for speeding, improper lane changes, careless driving and other offences. It would take about two years to implement.
In the meantime, the county will continue to look for ways to collect what is due.
“We do endeavour to do everything legally possible. We just keep trying our best,” Becker said.
Another report will likely come to county council in three months.