Court closure in St. Stephen costs nearly $5000 in vehicle expenses alone

Kathy Bockus/Courier Workers were removing row seating and other courtroom furniture in the St. Stephen Provincial Court in the week before Christmas. Information supplied through a Freedom of Information Act request indicates the provincial government spent just under $5,000 between Nov. 1, 2015 and April 19, 2016 on vehicles for court staff to drive travelling to Saint John. The courtroom was closed by the government in NOvember of 2015 as a cost-saving measure. A decision on a final case against the closure, arguing the right to access to justice, is expected in March of 2017.

Court closure cost nearly $5,000 in vehicle expenses alone

Parts, labour costs reveal discrepancies in reported figures

By Ken Partridge

St. Stephen

Kathy Bockus/Courier
Workers were removing row seating and other courtroom furniture in the St. Stephen Provincial Court in the week before Christmas. Information supplied through a Freedom of Information Act request indicates the provincial government spent just under $5,000 between Nov. 1, 2015 and April 19, 2016 on vehicles for court staff to drive travelling to Saint John. The courtroom was closed by the government in NOvember of 2015 as a cost-saving measure. A decision on a final case against the closure, arguing the right to access to justice, is expected in March of 2017.

The New Brunswick Department of Justice says it spent a total of $4,975.68 on three vehicles to ferry court workers to Saint John between Nov. 1, 2015 and April 19, 2016 after the closure of the courthouse in St. Stephen, according to a Freedom of information request filed by the St. Croix Courier.

The cost were incurred on three 2011 Toyota Corollas, all of which entered into service on Oct. 22, 2015. The first was pulled out of service on April 9, 2016 after total costs of $1,559.60; the second on April 14, 2016 after total costs of $1,496.25; and the third on June 2, 2016 after total costs of $1,919.83.

The cost totals include only parts, labour and fuel expenses. The department’s figures don’t include the salaries of workers operating the vehicles or if overtime was incurred due to the travel involved. Nor does it include the depreciation costs that were calculated for each vehicle during the period in question.

Depreciation costs for the first Corolla came to $1,953.72 over the four and half month period. For the second Corolla it was $1,900.70 and for the third Corolla it was $1,946.35.

There also appear to be some discrepancies in the parts and labour costs reported for each vehicle. For the first Corolla, a summary of work orders show $55.38 spent on labour and $23.12 spent on parts. There is also a commercial charge of $122.00, resulting from a tire change/rotation and the removal of winter studs.

However, a copy of the department’s Asset Monthly Cost Breakdown report for the same vehicle shows an additional $351.74 in part costs, and an additional $159.22 in labour costs.

On the second Corolla, a summary of work orders show $55.38 spent on labour and $28.85 spent on parts. There is also a commercial charge of $1,162.00, resulting from a tire balancing, a major cleaning, removal of winter studs and repairs to the car’s frame and exterior body panels.

However, a copy of the department’s Asset Monthly Cost Breakdown report for the same vehicle under-reports the commercial costs by $299.98.

On the third Corolla, a summary of work orders show $34.61 spent on labour and $14.55 spent on parts. There is also a commercial charge of $122.00, resulting from a tire balancing and the removal of winter studs.

However, a copy of the department’s Asset Monthly Cost Breakdown report for the same vehicle shows an additional $82.73 in part costs, and an additional $143.37 in labour costs. It also under-reports the commercial charges by $60.00.