4/14/2007Texas Cities Profit Despite Speed Trap Law
Texas law against speed traps has failed to prevent small towns from funding operations from speeding tickets.
The 1975 Texas statute meant to ban small jurisdictions from funding city operations from speeding tickets has failed to curb the practice. Estelline, a tiny town of 194 in the Panhandle, is almost entirely funded by citations issued to outsiders passing through on US 287. Where the speed limit suddenly drops from 70 MPH to 50, the town's lone police officer is ready to pounce.
Texas law mandates that a small city or town may only generate speeding ticket revenue equal to 30 percent of the previous year's total budget. After that, the city keeps just $1 from every $170-280 ticket it can issue. It must then send the rest to the state. In 1999, a state audit caught the town illegally withholding $15,025 in fine revenue.
"We're able to increase our revenue a bit every year," Estelline Mayor Rick Manley told the Houston Chronicle.
Estelline will generate $320,000 in traffic tickets and pocket $110,000 in 2007.