AUBURN, GA – Rising gas prices already have pushed some metro Atlanta cities to adopt higher speeding ticket fines to help cover the cost of keeping police officers on the road.
With no relief in sight from $4-a-gallon gas, drivers may find similar fine hikes in traffic courts on the Athens end of Georgia Highway 316.
The Auburn City Council plans to vote Aug. 7 whether to approve a $20 increase in traffic ticket fines. If the council approves the measure, Auburn would become the first city in the Athens area to approve such a hike.
Jackson County commissioners will discuss a similar measure at their meeting Monday, and the Jefferson city council will discuss the issue at its July 28 meeting.
“Why should we pass the cost of this gas on to law-abiding citizens and taxpayers when we can get the ones who are breaking the law to pay for it?” asked Jackson County Commissioner Tom Crow.
While plans for a gas surcharge vary, the extra revenue is meant to cover the rising cost of fuel for patrol cars – a cost that has strained small police departments and sheriff’s offices during the past year, said Frank Rotondo, director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Jackson County and Jefferson officials have not decided how much tickets would increase to cover the rising cost of gas.
The Dallas City Council in Paulding County recently agreed to add a $12 gas surcharge to every traffic fine. Holly Springs City Council voted in June to raise all traffic fines by $12 – $8 of which will go to pay for gas.
There’s no question that the cities need the revenue, but officials are wondering whether fuel surcharges will hold up in court, Rotondo said.
The Douglasville City Council recently decided to delay adding fuel surcharges to traffic tickets to see if Dallas gets sued over that city’s surcharges.
“(Surcharges) are still a viable option, but they may be subject to litigation,” Rotondo said.
Article from OnlineAthens.com,Merritt Melancon