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City and state split local fines

People who drive too fast, run stop signs, fail to signal turns, and commit any other traffic offense pump thousands of dollars into city and Marion County government budgets each year.

A common misperception is that the receipts go directly into law enforcement budgets, when in fact much of the money goes to the state of Kansas. The balance is retained by local governments primarily in their general fund accounts.

Peabody collected approximately $30,000 in traffic fines and court costs last year, City Administrator Mac Manning said, of which an unspecified portion goes to the state.

“The fines go into the general fund. A portion of the court costs is kept locally,” Manning said.

“The police department is operated out of the general fund. The judge’s salary and court clerk’s salary are paid out of the general fund also,” Manning said.

Manning noted revenue from the general fund beyond traffic ticket receipts is necessary to operate both departments.

“The revenue from tickets in no way covers their cost,” Manning said.

Marion City Clerk Angela Lange provided more detail about the allocation that goes to the state.

“The state receives $20.50 of every fine for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and a judges’ training fund,” Lange said.

“The court costs we keep in the general fund, and the court department for the judge’s salary, public notices for traffic codes, and court clerk training,” Lange said. “Fines go into the general fund.”

Lange said total traffic ticket receipts in Marion averaged approximately $6,500 annually over the past two years, though she pointed out the amount varies from year to year.

Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine said practices in Hillsboro reflect those of other communities.

“Some of it is awarded to operate the court, and some of it goes to the general fund,” Paine said. “Some of it goes to the state of Kansas, and some of it goes to operate the law enforcement training center in Hutchinson.”

Traffic cases in Marion County District Court carry a $98 docket fee in addition to the base fine. A breakdown provided by the court show $51.50 is allocated to the state clerk fee, $7 to a law library fund, $15 for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, $2 for the Prosecuting Attorney Training surcharge, $.50 for the Indigent Defense Service surcharge, and a $22 Judicial Branch surcharge that is returned to the judicial branch.

Last modified March 21, 2012

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