A Utah legislator is trying to put an end to speed trap towns.
Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard of Logan wants to cap the amount of money a city can generate from traffic tickets to 25% of their total budget. He accuses small cities like Mantua, off of highway 89 in Logan Canyon, of using traffic violations as more of a revenue source than a method for ensuring safety.
“I don’t think we should have our police officers as revenue collectors," he says. "That’s obviously a part, but a minor part of what a police officer does.”
But Mantua’s mayor, Mike Johnson, who also happens to be the police chief, says imposing this kind of restriction would severely impact the budget of the police department.
“We would lose enough money, I think, that we’d have to do away with several officers,” Johnson says.
Mantua is a town of about 750 people. It’s police force has one full-time officer and three part-time officers. Johnson says there’s a real need for safety on that stretch of road and the he feels the bill is unfairly targeting his town.
Meanwhile, Sen. Hillyard says he recognizes the need for public safety, but that people just passing through shouldn’t have to foot the bill.
“If they want to spend more on police officers, fine," Hillyard says. "If they’re really protecting the people of Mantua I’m sure the people of Mantua would be happy to pay more property tax.”
If passed, money generated in excess of 25% of a cities budget would be transferred into the state’s general fund.
The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Transportation committee on Monday and will now go before the whole Senate for debate.