Missouri’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against 13 St. Louis County municipalities for violating a 1995 law that bars Missouri cities and towns from collecting more than 30-percent of their total revenue from fines and court costs for traffic violations. Any fines or costs beyond that threshold are supposed to be turned over to the director of revenue to be disbursed among local school districts.
Attorney General Chris Koster requested financial reports submitted by St. Louis County communities to the auditor’s office. A review of those found what he calls a, “pattern of non-compliance.”
Koster says Crystal Lake, Velda Village Hills, the village of Hillsdale and the village of Mackenzie, failed to indicate how much of their operating revenue came from fines and court costs. He says Bellerive Acres, Moline Acres, Normandy and the village of Vinita Terrace, submitted reports suggesting their revenue from traffic fines exceeded the thirty percent cap.
Five others – Beverly Hills, Pagedale, Breckenridge Hills, Pasadena Park and Upland Park, didn’t file an annual financial report in either Fiscal Year 2014 or 2013.
Koster says that law, often referred to as the Macks Creek law, “was enacted to protect Missourians from predatory traffic ticketing. As we continue to identify areas for reform, an important first step is to require St. Louis County municipalities to follow the Macks Creek law to the letter. Based on my review, these thirteen municipalities did not.”
He is asking the St. Louis County Circuit Court for a judgement that those towns lacked jurisdiction over traffic-related matters in their municipal courts during the time that they were not in compliance with the Macks Creek law. He’s also asking that they be barred from exercising jurisdiction over traffic violations in until the noncompliance is remedied.
Koster says, however, his goal with the lawsuit is to make those communities comply with the law.
“If these municipalities will work with my office to come into compliance, we will work with them,” said Koster. “If they fail to work with us, or simply do not have the ability to comply with state law, then they should lose jurisdiction over traffic violations.”