Washingtonville moves to hike court costs, seeks traffic crackdown


Salem News staff writer

WASHINGTONVILLE — Council members Monday unanimously passed a first reading on an ordinance that would raise court costs for village citations by $5 and called for increased enforcement of traffic violations caused by truck drivers passing through the city.

The extra money gained by the proposed increase would go toward the village’s use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), a service used to research criminal histories. Court costs would jump from $59 to $64 under the proposal. This would be the second increase in court costs in the last few years, said Norm Sommers, council president. The ordinance would need to pass two more readings to become law.

Police Chief Jim Craven, who was consulted during the meeting via speaker phone, said the village normally gives about 350 citations a year. At $5 a citation, this could mean a possible increase of about $1,750 to the village’s computer fund.

Council members echoed the proposed increase in court costs with a desire to crack down on traffic violations in the city.

Council members Renee Jackson and Walter Savage both said they have noticed an increase in trucks using their engine brake, which produces a loud noise. Engine braking is barred by the village. Jackson said the problem is most prevalent between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. when students are leaving school for the day.

Craven questioned whether the township had formally codified any rules on engine brake violations. Because there are posted signs at the village entrances barring engine brake use, Craven suggested his officers could simply charge violators for failure to comply with posted signs.

Village Solicitor Peter Horvath advised the village does have a specific ordinance against engine breaking and if needed the information can be passed onto the village police for use in enforcement.

Village Councilman Jim Smith said semi-trucks have been driving too fast down state Route 14, the main artery through the village. Smith also resides on the route.

“I saw a truck almost hit a school bus last week,” Smith said. Washingtonville is already considered a speed trap and might as well enforce its speed laws, he said. “It would be up to the police chief, but I would hope so,” Smith said of increased enforcement.

After the meeting, Sommers disputed the village’s speed trap reputation.

“I don’t think people really think that anymore,” he said. Its been over 30 years since the town could justify such a moniker, back when it was “a one cop town,” he said. Nowadays, most of the tickets given are for speeds in excess of 49 mph and over in a 35 mph zone, he said.