Despite almost half a million dollar loss at the Region of Waterloo International Airport, the region is still anticipating an annual surplus of close to $1 million for 2016.

Council was presented with a financial report on Oct. 4 that showed some of the surplus coming in the form of higher-than-anticipated Provincial Offenses Act (POA) revenues, which added up to $442,000 of extra revenue. Some of this comes from the collection of large fines ($160,000 in the month of April and $169,000 in the month of August).

These fines are from a wide range of traffic offenses including speeding tickets, red light tickets and tickets issued for Highway Traffic Act offenses. Those numbers fluctuate each year, although this year was higher than anticipated.

The rise in red light camera fines will come as an eye-opener for the naysayers of the program, who call it a regional cash grab. Red-light revenues of more than $175,000 over the projected budget equal more than a third of the total POA surplus.

“That whole budget line depends on the number of tickets issued every year,” said Regional Chair Ken Seiling. “That has been going up and down…we had the previous year where it had dropped substantially due to weather and out-of-service cameras.”

A major budget drag for the region was at the local airport, where an almost six per cent decrease in passengers from 2015 means expected shortfalls of around $500,000.

With Nolinor Air ceasing operations at the airport in March, due to noise restrictions, the bottom line took a major hit.

From January to August 2015, passenger numbers were 103,839. Just a year later, it has fallen to 96,792.

American Airlines followed suit on Oct. 5, and the region is anticipating the number of passengers who continue to use the airport to decrease.

“The airport is more than just a passenger service…a lot of businesses depend on it for moving parts,” said Seiling, using Toyota as an example of a company who relies on the airport. “It was built as an economic support to the businesses in the community, and I think people would be surprised how many parts come in and out of that airport.”

Another loss for the region came in the form of decreasing transit ridership in 2016. With fare revenue five per cent lower than budgeted levels, it leaves a potential shortfall of $1.6 million from transit heading into year’s end.

Reasons for the decreasing ridership include lower fuel prices, increased use of ride-sharing services like Uber, and the impact that ION construction detours throughout the region have had on service.

The final financial report will come to council in March.

Source: Kitchener Post