Sheriff asks support of HB108
By REBEKAH POTTER (firstname.lastname@example.org)
LISBON — At the press conference regarding Wednesday’s drug sweep, Columbiana County Sheriff Dave Smith took the opportunity to ask for support for a bill that would supply funding for Drug Task Forces.
Ohio House of Representatives Bill 108 would add a $5 fee to moving traffic violations, with the money earmarked for Drug Task Forces state-wide. It would generate $6-8 million in funding, Smith said, to be distributed to Drug Task Forces based on their number of agents and amount of activity.
If HB108, which is currently in committee, is not passed, “it would be a real struggle to keep those task forces alive,” Smith said. The bill has support throughout the state, although at least one state Supreme Court judge has questioned where the money should go.
In the past Drug Task Forces have relied heavily on funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant for operational expenses. However, Smith said the amount of the grant allocated for Drug Task Forces has dwindled steadily in the past ten years.
“So, local government agencies, local cities, county townships have had to foot the bill,” Smith said, using their own funds for expenses like drug buy money, surveillance equipment and car repairs.
If HB108 is passed, it could make up the difference in funding that has been lost, Smith said, and “alleviate to a large extent some of the cost to local government.”
When asked if he thinks the bill would lead to an increase in moving violations cited by police, Smith said he doesn’t believe so. He said it is unlikely that law enforcement officials would make traffic arrests with the intention of raising funds for Drug Task Forces.
Section: News Posted: 6/7/2007