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1/10/2007
Georgia: Municipal Court Helps Boost Budget
When desperate for revenue, Macon, Georgia turned to the police and court system to generate an extra $1 million in net revenue.

Mayor C. Jack Ellis
Action by city officials spurred the Macon, Georgia Municipal Court and city police to boost the amount of revenue generated primarily from speeding tickets by sixty percent in just one year. In fiscal year 2001, fines generated $2.2 million in profit through the court system. By 2005, that number had plunged by more than half to just $1 million. Upset city leaders prompted changes.

"It is imperative that the City of Macon put together a balanced budget for FY2007 and beyond," wrote Mayor C. Jack Ellis in the city's latest budget statement. "Expenses cannot continue to exceed revenues as it has in the past. Tough decisions have to be made...."

The National Motorist Association's Speed Trap Registry warns motorists that the city often traps travelers on Interstate 75 who fail to notice a poorly marked change in speed limits on the highway.

The speed traps worked. In 2006, it cost the city $1,234,362 to operate the court system, including salaries for court police. In turn, the court collected $2,926,206 in fines -- primarily from speeding tickets. This left a profit of $1,689,701, up sixty percent from 2005. The city reaped another $130,000 in profit by seizing vehicles.

Looking to boost funds still further, the city is looking to contract with ACS to install a red light camera system. ACS is currently on trial in Canada for bribing police officers to recommend a lucrative, no-bid photo enforcement contract.



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