By Sadie Hunter
The Zionsville Town Council has decided to hold off on taking action on a proposed ordinance that would implement a 30 percent fee for late payments of traffic citations within the town.
Serving as an amendment to current traffic code, the fee would increase an additional 30 percent of the original cost of the citation after it becomes delinquent, typically after 30 days, and would be collected by a collection agency.
Some councilors said they were weary of passing the ordinance because of the negative impact it may have on a violator’s credit or long-term financial future.
Town Judge Erika Singler, who used Carmel as an example, petitioned in favor of the ordinance, saying 30 percent of a citation that typically is $159 or $169 wouldn’t be detrimental to a person’s credit or financial future. “If the fines were $500, I would feel differently,” she said.
Singler said the projected revenue from the collection fee is “a fairly small amount, maybe $2,500 a year, but that’s about 7 percent of what the town receives in an entire year in revenue from speeding tickets.”
Singler continued, saying that in her observations of the current system in place, the court is acting as a debt collector.
“What I mean is that people would come in every single month and make excuses about why they couldn’t pay, and then the case would be reset for another month,” she said. “I felt that that was kind of clogging the docket, and I also didn’t like the idea of the court being the one that was kind of shaking people down and seeing whether they have a good excuse or not.”
“The thing that concerns me about this … is that perhaps a majority of people who are not paying are not able to pay,” Councilor Tom Schuler said. “It seems like perhaps we could just maybe take a look at this over the course of the next year and see what the real impact is.”
At the July council meeting, the council agreed with Schuler, voting 7-0 to keep the proposal in the council’s old business and informally study the traffic citation payment process over the next year.
The next Zionsville Town Council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Zionsville Town Hall, 1100 W. Oak St., Zionsville.