Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 11, 2003

Winsted considering 'administrative' traffic fines

By Julie Yurek

Speeding tickets issued from Winsted police officers may soon be paid to the city instead of the county.

At a workshop before the regular meeting Tuesday, the Winsted City Council discussed revenue generating and projects that would affect the 2004 budget. The council also review a draft of the city's personnel policy.

One way to cut costs and raise revenue would be to adopt administrative fees as the cities of Silver Lake and Dassel have done.

The council approved to continue pursuing the idea.

An administrative fine ordinance allows cities to collect fines on minor traffic offenses that occur in the community.

Police Chief Mike Henrich informed the council about areas where the administrative fines would work, and where they wouldn't.

Traffic violations such as speeding would be an option for those type of fines. However, the officer issuing the ticket would have the right to determine if it's an administrative fine or a regular ticket. An administrative fine would not affect motorists' insurance, Henrich said.

Blight citations would not be an area Henrich would recommend for an administrative fee because it has been necessary to take violators to court, he said.

City Attorney Fran Eggert reviewed the City of Silver Lake's administrative procedures. He recommended the city adopt the same.

An administrative fine ordinance is "a prudent way for cities to handle minor traffic and other type of ordinance violations," Eggert said.

"The savings to the city are in attorney fees since the city does not have to pay an attorney to prosecute these matters. The bottom line is that this proposal is cost effective, feasible, and a balanced procedure," he said.

Henrich also informed the council about the need for part-time secretarial help in the police department.

Henrich as budgeted $4,500 in the 2004 budget for eight hours per week of secretarial services.

Henrich spent one-third of his time doing paperwork in 2002, he said. Also, when the city's population reaches 2,500, the Winsted Police Department will be required to compile and submit its own monthly reports to Criminal Justice Information Center, he said. The McLeod County Sheriff's Department is required to do the reports for cities under 2,500, he said.

The secretarial person would include data entry work, transcribing tapes, updating the department's policy and procedure manuals, and updating the night call book, Henrich said.

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