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Citation fees on their way to Jonesborough for second reading

Individuals who are convicted of a traffic citation in Jonesborough may soon have to pay a $5 electronic traffic fee, after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved on first reading the ordinance at the July 14 meeting.
According to the ordinance, municipal governments using electronic citation equipment can charge a $5 electronic fee “for each traffic citation in which there is a plea of guilty, nolo contendere or judgment of guilty.”
Due to a sunset provision, the electronic citation fee provision will be terminated in five years from the adoption date.
Chief Matt Hawkins said that the ordinance has to go through a second reading on Monday, Aug. 11. If it passes on the second reading, the sunset provision will begin in August.
He said the electronic citation fee is a piece of legislation that passed this year to help agencies implement and maintain electronic citation programs.
The Jonesborough Police Department went online with the electronic citation program on Sept. 1, 2010. He explained that there are a lot of upfront and recurring hardware and software associated costs with the program.
Alderman Chuck Vest said he thought it was a good thing that the violators pay the fee.
The new ordinance will collect $4 for the police department and $1 will be retained by the court clerk. Hawkins said the money is dedicated to hardware, software, training and maintenance for the program.
He said the ordinance helps defer some of the costs of the program from the general funds and local taxpayers by having the violators pay the fee.
“The violator who pleas or is found guilty will help to maintain our electronic citation,” Hawkins said.
He explained that the vast majority of the time, if a citation is dismissed and the individual is not found guilty, all charges and costs are dismissed regarding that citation.
The approximate revenue generated from the fee will be between $5,000 and $6,000.
The board also approved an increase in court costs from $25 per citation to $35.
According to a memorandum issued by Hawkins, the citation fine and fee schedule for Municipal Court has not received an update since August 2010.
The electronic citation program has proved to be beneficial for the Jonesborough Police Department, town officials believe.
Hawkins said that with the electronic citation program, instead of an officer using a pen and carbon paper to write citations, they do it on a PDA that is then filed electronically.
In addition to the device being used for electronic citations, it is also used for such things as criminal investigations, crash reports, warrants on subjects, driver’s license and license plate information.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said the police department is working smarter and not harder while helping the people of Jonesborough.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said the device simplifies the process by importing information directly into a computer.
He said the PDAs are also a great device because the police department has one dispatcher on duty and one channel.
“At peak times it gets extremely busy,” he said. “The PDAs access all that information without having to use the radio.”