News and Tribune

Clark County

April 23, 2012

Jeffersonville attorney: New ordinance is the ticket

Deferral program would boost city court revenue

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville is aiming to capture more revenue from traffic tickets with an ordinance update that’s in the works.

According to Corporation Counsel Tom Lowe, the move is necessary because the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office is no longer filing traffic citations with Jeffersonville City Court. The loss of those filings could translate into a loss of revenue for the court, he said.

However, the problem could be remedied with an ordinance deferral program. Under such a program, motorists would be cited for violating local ordinances rather than state laws. That keeps the fine money in Jeffersonville and captures more of the court costs on the local level.

“It doesn’t cost the person getting the ticket more,” Lowe said as he explained the program to the Jeffersonville City Council during a meeting April 16.

The city council will have to pass an ordinance defining the streets and intersections where the deferral program applies. It can only include roads under local jurisdiction. A state road or interstate, for instance, could not be included.

Local traffic codes would be written to cover certain infractions, such as violations for speeding or failure to stop at a light. Not everything could be cited as an ordinance violation, Lowe said. Seatbelt infractions, for example, would remain as a state violation.

Key to the program’s success is participation by the Jeffersonville Police Department, in that officers will have to know where they can write tickets for ordinance violations.

Jeffersonville Police Chief Chris Grimm said within the next few weeks the department is getting hardware installed in vehicles that will prepopulate some of the fields on the traffic citations it issues. The hardware could be programmed to include local ordinance violations, which could give the effort a boost, he said.

Further, Grimm said, the administration encourages officers to write tickets based on local ordinance violations already.

Council President Ed Zastawny said he expects it to be at least six months before a vote is taken on the issue, as the ordinance will take some time to draft. When it is presented, he said he would absolutely support it.

“It sounds like Jeffersonville would receive more money for city court,” Zastawny said. “I think the council will be supportive of that.”

Councilwoman Connie Sellers said it had been discussed previously by former councilman Keith Fetz during his term.

“I’m glad that you’re doing it, taking some action on it,” she said to Lowe during the meeting.

Attempts to reach Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart and City Court Judge Ken Pierce for comment on this issue were unsuccessful.

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