As frustrating as getting a speeding ticket can be, violators can’t accuse New Albany police officers of padding city finances when they hit the emergency lights and make a traffic stop.
That’s because only $4 of the average speeding fine goes back to the city. The minimal amount is designated for training expenses.
For years there hasn’t been a city court or a county court to hear the speeding cases, thus most of the money collected from tickets written in New Albany has gone to the state.
But that could change soon, as the City Council has received an ordinance that would keep the majority of speeding ticket dollars in New Albany. If passed on three readings, City Clerk Marcey Wisman said New Albany could begin receiving all but court costs from its speeding violations as early as mid-February.
The first two votes on the measure are scheduled for Thursday’s council meeting.
If the system had been in place in 2009, it would have meant approximately $480,000 in additional revenue for the city. The money would be placed in a non-reverting fund for expenses related to ticket writing, such as handheld machines and printers.
“These are expenses the city has to take on anyway,” Wisman said.
But instead of coming out of the general fund, the fines would cover the cost of upgrading equipment.
Along with City Attorney Shane Gibson, Wisman has investigated the process for about two years and wondered why New Albany hadn’t established its own ordinance for much longer.
One of the big steps was finding a judge that would hear the speeding cases, as necessitated by state law. Luckily, Wisman gained a commitment from Floyd County Superior Court No. 2 Judge Glenn Hancock.
For the cases that make it that far, Hancock’s court will be scheduled to hear the claims at 1:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month.
“By going through Judge Hancock’s court rather than having a city court, you save tons of money because you’re not paying another judge. A judge that is also going to have to have an office and a staff,” Wisman said.
Just like the state, those that receive speeding tickets can still enter a diversion program to avoid losing driver’s points off their license. The diversion money would also stay in New Albany.
The effort would include the Floyd County Clerk’s office, which is where violators would pay their speeding tickets if the council approves the ordinance.
Wisman said County Clerk Linda Moeller has agreed to aid the city if the change is made. The county would be paid a portion of the court fees from each fine for its involvement.
Wisman said the plan is to begin with speeding fines and then see if there are other violations that can be handled locally.
“Eventually I believe we’ll be able to add more,” she said.
Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti said she’ll vote in favor of the ordinance because it could free-up funding in the police department, which has fallen short of its budget the last two years.
“I support it because of the economic times that we’re going through,” she said. “I think it’s great that Judge Hancock would take it into his court system. I’d like to thank him for stepping up to the plate.”
BY THE NUMBERS
If the council adopts the new speeding ticket ordinance, the fines would be as follows. Please note, the fines do not include court costs:
Miles per hour over limit and fine:
• 1-15 — $50
• 15-20 — $60
• 21-25 — $70
• More than 25 — $100
New Albany currently receives just $4 of average speeding ticket
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