Limit cities’ reliance on revenue from traffic fines
By: The Denver Post
May 15, 2015, updated April 24, 2016
When cities and towns become heavily reliant on traffic tickets and fines for their budgets, they have every incentive to stop as many motorists as possible to raise revenue. And yet that is clearly happening now in a number of small towns in Colorado.
It’s time state lawmakers considered imposing a cap.
A joint investigation by 9News and Rocky Mountain PBS I-News found several small towns using revenue from traffic tickets to buoy their budgets.
Five towns earned more than 30 percent of their revenue from traffic tickets and fines: Campo, Mountain View, Morrison, Nunn and Manzanola. The state average was 4 percent, according to the investigation.
The tiny town of Campo near the Oklahoma border collects a whopping 93 percent of its funding from traffic tickets.
Mountain View in the Denver metro area derives 53 percent of its revenue from tickets, and Morrison collects 52 percent.
Those numbers are too high.
Mountain View is home to only 518 people and encompasses only six blocks.
Yet, in 2013, the $621,099 raised in citation revenue paid for more than half of the town’s budget. Many of those tickets were for seat belt violations and for drivers having an obstructed view, such as anything hanging from a rearview mirror.
The town of Morrison, with 428 people, has a police department of more than 20 officers. Traffic fines in 2013 brought in more than $1.15 million — 52 percent of its budget. And the vast majority of tickets are issued at a single spot, according to 9News, “about four miles from the main part of town … just within the city limits” on Highway 285.
It’s a speed trap, in other words.