Proposed Move of Patrol Post in Columbia County Could Mean More Speeding Tickets

The planned move of a Georgia State Patrol post from Thomson to Grovetown could increase speeding tickets in Columbia County GA, but officials say it also could mean more money for the county and a greater sense of safety. Last year, Columbia County Probate Court made nearly $140,000 from citations issued by the state patrol, funds that go into the county’s general fund for county services. County Commissioner Ron Thigpen said that revenue could more than double with a state patrol post on Chamblin Road.

The commission has approved spending as much as $2 million to construct the post, projected to open as early as 2009.

“Based on what the state patrol has provided us, we would expect that (state patrol citation revenues) to be $300,000 to $400,000 a year,” Mr. Thigpen said. “In my mind, if you’re getting $400,000 a year and spending $2 million, in five years it repays itself.”

Because the Georgia State Patrol is not a revenue-generating agency, patrol Lt. Donnie Smith was unsure how much more money Columbia County might make from traffic citations.

“Typically, the county where the post is located generates a little more activity due to troopers driving to the post every day,” he said. “It’s not that we have a bigger presence by design. It’s just because of location.”

Troopers from the Thomson post patrol Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie, Glascock and Warren counties in Georgia. The agency concentrates much of its efforts in the three less-populated counties.

“The majority of our staffing will be done in the rural counties,” Lt. Smith said. “Those are the counties that we are required to aid the most. The sheriff’s department in Richmond and Columbia (counties) are capable of handling their own stuff.”

Mr. Thigpen said his estimate came from information provided by state patrol officials to Columbia County Administrator Steve Szablewski.

Mr. Szablewski told commissioners they can expect a 40 percent increase in citations issued by the state patrol within county borders.

Phone messages left for Mr. Szablewski were not immediately returned Thursday and Friday.

CITATIONS ISSUED

Georgia State Patrol citations issued in 2007:
County Citations
McDuffie 3,207
Richmond 2,157
Warren 1,778
Columbia 1,363
Glascock 194

Source: Georgia State Patrol

Donnie Fetter
AugustaChronicle.com

 

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