Sheriff proposes selective traffic enforcement
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 1:46 PM EST
By Lisa Andrews, Staff Writer
MECKLENBURG COUNTY — Selective traffic enforcement, the act of placing law enforcement officers in a particular area specifically for the purpose of issuing traffic summons, such as speeding tickets, is something the sheriff of Mecklenburg County has proposed to the county Board of Supervisors. On Monday the supervisors said they will consider approving the issue at their next meeting.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Danny R. Fox originally proposed the selective enforcement in November 2008. He presented the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors with a 28-day cycle plan at their regular monthly meeting in November.
The plan was prepared by the sheriff after a request from the supervisors, in October 2008, that he find funding options that could help offset the cost of services that the sheriff is mandated, by the state, to provide.
The estimated proceeds that the county could see generated from the plan would be $170,000. This is based on an average of 800 tickets issued in the 28-day cycle.
At a special called budget committee meeting held Monday the board heard more about the plan. Eight of the nine supervisors attended the meeting.
Chief Deputy James Snead said the plan could generate as much as $240,000 in revenues for the county. Snead said deputies would be positioned in areas throughout the county that are known for speeding motorists. He said the areas are straight-aways that lead the driver to speed and disobey the posted speed limit signs.
Some of the areas mentioned by Snead as primary concerns are Highway 1, Highway 15 and Interstate 85.
Chairman Glenn Barbour said, “This plan gives us (the county) more police presence.”
Snead said deputies would be working the areas on volunteer overtime, which is estimated to cost the county nearly $32,000 in a 28-day cycle pay period. This estimate accounts for overtime pay for 10 deputies at about $32.15 per hour.
The cost would be deferred by the funds generated through the speeding tickets and other tickets that may be issued during the traffic stop such as non-compliance with vehicle registration laws and driver’s license violations, according to Snead.
Fox said in November 2008 that the wages of the off-duty work and cost of operating the vehicles would be paid for from the proceeds of their enforcement actions.
The Supervisors said Monday that they would expect a report from the sheriff’s department each month outlining the cost of the plan and the money the enforcement generates so that they may track the cost and the revenues ensuring the effectiveness of the temporary plan.
Snead said that another county, which he declined to name, has a similar program in place and after several years of the program the county now generates $700,000 in revenues yearly.
Supervisor Bill Blalock asked, “What kind of reputation will this give Mecklenburg County?” He was alluding to the thought that the county setting up “speed traps” could make motorists hesitant to visit the area.
Wayne Carter, the county’s administrator, said he would not call this an income generator. He said that it might take the county up to three months “to see a return,” or any revenues, that may be generated from the plan.
The supervisors did not discuss on Monday another suggestion that Fox had made in November. Fox had suggested the sheriff’s office start a Motor Carrier Unit. He said in his memo to the supervisors that the unit would consist in training two to four deputies in the inspection of tractor trailers, dump trucks and other Department of Transportation-governed vehicles.
He said the examining of weights and measurements of the trucks might not benefit the county as all fines for these violations go directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In other budget matters:
During Monday’s meeting, Carter said he had spoken with all departments within the county and asked them to do all they could to save money for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in June. He said the sheriff’s department had agreed to not purchase one vehicle they had planned to purchase this year.
He said he was concerned about the revenues expected to arrive from the state for programs. He said while the state is required to pay portions of certain programs, such as Medicaid, the state has been slow to pay those revenues this year and it is tightening the county’s budget. He said the state might not pay their portions until July, which is a new fiscal year for Mecklenburg County.
“The state is sitting on their money,” Carter said. He said that the state holds onto their money so that it will gain interest.
He said that while the county treasurer, Sandra Langford, has said the payment of property taxes in December 2008 went well, there are still some that have not paid.
Carter said that typically there are about 4,000 county taxpayers who do not pay their property taxes until it is time to purchase a county decal. County decals will become due March 31.
Carter said, “We are trying to cut costs. This is not going to be a good budget year across the state.”
He said that the school system is looking at less money from the state in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and that “therefore our (the county’s) contribution can be less.”
He said of the upcoming budget sessions, “It is not going to be a happy time around here.” Print this story || Email this story || Comment (1 comment(s))
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