Prosecutor: Cash not violating Speed Trap law

CASH, AR (KAIT) - According to a letter sent by Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grant DeProw to Cash Mayor Michael Cureton, the Craighead County town must modify its accounting procedures to distinguish between traffic and non-traffic fines.

The Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney's office had reviewed a report from the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit involving the city of Cash. In the letter, DeProw said auditors had expressed a concern that the city was violating the Arkansas Speed Trap Law.

"I have determined that you are in compliance with that statute, but I would also recommend that you modify your accounting procedures to avoid future misunderstandings," DeProw wrote Cureton in the two-page letter.

According to state law, cities cannot collect fines and costs from traffic offenses "in an amount which exceeds 30% of the municipality's total expenditures, less capital expenditures and debt service, in the preceding year; or writing more than 50% of its citations for speeding offenses less than 10 mph over the posted speed limit."

DeProw issued the letter to city officials on Dec. 19, looking into the years 2014 through 2016 involving fines and court costs for the city.

"The Clerk's records also indicate that 1,869 traffic citations were issued in Cash for the covered period, 30 of which were written for less than 10 mph over the limit," DeProw's letter read. "That is substantially less than the prohibited 50%."

The letter also noted that traffic fines and costs were 7% of expenditures in 2014, 17% of expenditures in 2015 and 22% of expenditures for 2016.

DeProw said in the letter that he also took into account highway construction and improvements throughout 2016 as well as increased traffic flow.

However, DeProw asked city officials to be more specific in posting revenue into various city accounts.

"I understand that multiple sources of revenue are deposited into your fine account and I believe therein lies the misunderstanding. You have indicated that fines and costs from Arkansas State Police citations and non-traffic offenses, such as DWI, domestic violence, drug arrests and non-traffic city ordinance violations, are also deposited into that account. All of the foregoing, in my opinion, do not count toward the 30% cap for traffic offenses allowed by law," DeProw said. "I believe you also mentioned an appropriation from the District Court for equipment purchase and maintenance that is deposited into this fund. It would seem that suspicion has arisen from the practice of depositing all fines and costs into a single account. I recommend that you modify your accounting procedures to distinguish between traffic and non-traffic fines. This would allow future auditors a clearer picture of your compliance with the Speed Trap Law and would avoid any appearance of impropriety by the city and its police department."

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