The Governor signed into law today a bill that will lower the cap on how much revenue cities in Missouri can make from traffic tickets and fines. The measure lowers that limit from 30-percent statewide to 20-percent for most of the state, but to 12.5-percent in St. Louis County. The bill also puts a cap on fines combined with court costs for minor traffic offenses at $300, and bars cities from leveling additional charges on someone for missing a court date.
Bill sponsor Eric Schmitt says municipalities have been too focused on generating revenue to cover city budgets.
“What’s happened is a lot of municipalities and city managers have viewed the citizenry as nothing more than ATMs for bloated government,” said Schmitt. “Municipalities have had this mechanism of taxation by citation, they’ve been able to avoid the tough decisions that at state government we’ve had to deal with when we balance our budget, or people around their kitchen table.”
St. Louis County Representative Clem Smith doesn’t like that his county has one cap while the rest of the state has another. He says some cities won’t be able to survive.
“This bill is kind of putting the hands around their neck and choking them a little bit. They can breathe a little bit, but there’s still a firm grip around their neck and it’s not right because it’s only being applied to St. Louis County.”
Smith says the issue could end up in court.
“I think the unfair treatment of St. Louis County municipalities is probably grounds for some sort of lawsuit to be brought up.”
The bill takes effect August 28th.