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State wants village to pay up

Amount still undetermined for back pay for traffic violation tickets

 

COAL GROVE — If times weren’t hard enough in the Village of Coal Grove, they are about to get a little worse, both for the village itself and for those caught flouting traffic laws within its borders.

At Monday night’s village council meeting, police chief Eric Spurlock told council members the village now owes the state back-pay to correct an issue with mayor’s court fees paid to the state.

The amount the village owes to the state has yet to be determined.

To help pay the impending bill, Spurlock said Wednesday he raised mayor’s court costs from $90 to $95.

According to Spurlock, part of the court costs from each moving traffic violation case where there are fines goes to the state.

Coal Grove had been paying $40 per case, as it thought it was supposed to.

However, the state raised that fee an additional $5 at the end of 2009, leaving the village with a bill owed to the state.

Former Coal Grove clerk and treasurer Debbie Fields said no one notified the village or the bonds clerk when the change was made.

“No one was notified by the attorney general’s office,” Fields said.

“I don’t know why they didn’t catch it right off the bat,” said councilman Bob Self.

On top of that, the village also recently had its biannual state audit, where the discrepancy still went unnoticed.

“The auditors didn’t catch it during the regular audit,” Fields said.

What caught the attention of auditors was the higher amount paid by the Village of South Point to the state.

“South Point has a new court system and that’s how the auditor found out,” Spurlock said.

The newer software would account for the Ohio Revised Code update, Spurlock said.

“You would think the state would let you know (of changes),” he said.

Coal Grove’s recent audit was recalled due to the discrepancy.

An auditor was at the village hall Wednesday to go through records to determine how many traffic tickets with guilty pleas and no contest pleas with a finding of guilt were issued in the 26 months since the state raised the fee.

Mayor Larry McDaniel asked the finance committee and the rest of council to meet for a workshop at 11 a.m. Saturday to discuss the village’s finances.