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Fairfield municipal project saves citizens money while boosting city funding

A proposed Fairfield Municipal Ordinance would save citizens money while adding to the cities general fund. (Chris Arbino/KTVO)

Fines, surcharges, and court costs.

A simple traffic citation could cost you hundreds in Iowa after everything is added up and blemish your clean driving record.

But a proposed municipal infraction ordinance could save Fairfield citizens money while boosting revenue for the city.

“It’s kind of something in the middle that is a non-moving violation that isn’t on their driving record plus instead of $150 to $200 in fines, it’s more of a $40 to $60 fine,” explains Fairfield Police Chief David Thomas

Right now, officers can either issue a citation or give a verbal warning.

But Fairfield police felt tickets were too costly and verbal warnings weren’t taken seriously.

The municipal infraction ordinance gives Fairfield officers a third option that is not as costly as a state traffic citation but adds a level of deterrence that verbal warnings often miss.

Currently, the majority of fines paid when a citation is issued in Fairfield goes to the state of Iowa.

The new ordinance allows Fairfield officers to give a municipal citation, where a simple $40 fine is assessed and paid directly to the city, while keeping the the infraction off of your driving record.

That would boost the city's revenue 10 fold, says Fairfield city council member Michael Halley.

“By our calculations at the same ticket rates or same number of tickets, would change from around 3000 in revenue to over 30000”.

Fairfield Police Chief David Thomas says it’s not a cash grab by the city, and in fact, is quite the opposite.

“Quite frankly, you don’t generate a lot of money so that was absolutely no reason. We weren’t looking at it for revenue, but that was our concern with that maybe what people would think”

Ottumwa city attorney Joni Keith echoed that sentiment. Ottumwa has used a similar municipal program since 2012.

“It’s been a good program for the city. It hasn’t’ really increased revenue to the city but I think it helps our citizens,” Keith said.

Halley told KTVO that the program was still in its research phase, but could possibly be implemented by the end of 2018.

If you’d like to provide feedback to the Fairfield city staff about the project, you can contact Chief Thomas at 641-472-4146 or leave him an email at dthomas@jeffersoncoiowa.com

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