- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

BRICE, Ohio (AP) - A central Ohio village that lost a major part of its revenue stream when the state abolished mayor’s courts for some small villages has a new system for collecting money from traffic fines.

The village of Brice in Franklin County has installed a “civil-violations system,” in which fines are meant to be paid directly to the village, The Columbus Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1jozB84 ) reports. The newspaper reports that police in the village of 114 residents have written more than 1,000 traffic citations, some for as much as $1,500 under the new system.

Citations have been issued for violations including speeding, suspended licenses and illegal window tints.

But drivers and others are questioning the system adopted a few months after state lawmakers stripped Brice and six other Ohio villages mostly supported by traffic tickets of their mayor’s courts. The courts were banned in villages with fewer than 201 residents.

Mayor’s courts have received criticism over the years, with some believing they encourage creation of speed-traps to raise money.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Michael T. Brandt said he had never heard of a system like Brice’s new one.

“I just can’t fathom anybody trying this,” Brandt said. “It sounds like a way to circumvent the law to keep the money influx into the community.”

The village’s prosecutor, Tammy Hiland, said Brice officials know that their system is being questioned, but that they developed it “with good intentions.” She said the officials believed they were on solid ground legally.

“They didn’t feel like they were doing anything wrong,” said Hiland, who began working for the village in September.

Village offices were closed Saturday, and messages seeking comment from the mayor and other officials were not immediately returned.

The village enacted its new system in May after the law abolishing the mayor’s courts took effect in March, and police began handing out the new tickets in July, the newspaper reported.

Hiland said the new system was based on the ticketing structure that Bowling Green police use for infractions such as littering or disorderly conduct. The new ordinance cited an Ohio Supreme Court case involving speed cameras and civil penalties in Akron as justification for Brice leveling its own fines for traffic violations.

The ordinance also notes the addition of a $500 penalty not paid in 60 days, and it’s not clear how much money the village has collected under the new system, according to the Dispatch.

Drivers can challenge citations at administrative hearings held once a month.

But Consuela Floyd was so incensed over her July 31 citation charging $75 for a 4 percent window tint that she asked to have it transferred to Franklin County.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to pay the ticket” said Floyd, 41, of Blacklick.

She said the ticket was dismissed, but she had to pay $90 in court costs.


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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