Speeding surcharge could fund police patrols

August 6, 2008 4:05:58 PM PDT
How would you feel about paying a $40 surcharge on tickets for speeding, reckless driving and other violations--and using that money to fund state police patrols in rural towns? It's a proposal backed by dozens of mayors who recently got bills from the state charging for police coverage that until now they've always gotten for free. "There's over 2-million tickets written a year and this particular bill could raise enough money to help the rural towns and the communities that have police departments," said Buena Vista mayor Chuck Chiarello.

"Cities like Camden, Paterson, Newark also receive state police protection and didn't get a bill," said Upper Township committeeman Jay Newman.

The mayors are steamed that 89 towns across the state--including Buena Vista--are being asked to pay for state police coverage. The bill here is over $300,000, which could trigger a property tax hike of about $100 per household.

"We're just blue collar workers. We don't make a whole lot of money."

Rita Burkhard of Buena Vista says families here are already taxed to their limit.

"We're just regular everyday people so to raise them anymore than what they are I don't think is fair."

The surcharges would create a $160 million pool of money. Half would go to full time police departments around the state, the other half to rural communities to cover the cost of state police patrols.

"That means they won't have to increase property taxes the way they would have if they have to pay this to the state of New Jersey," said State Senator Jeff Van Drew of Cape May County.

But some drivers object to a surcharge.

"That's not our responsibility. If they want to live in a small town let them pay for it. Why should we pay for the people who live in a secluded area?" said Enrico Rametti of Washington Township.

Supporters want the surcharge legislation passed by December 15th. That's when towns have to tell the state if they're going to pay up for state police patrols or find another way to protect their citizens.

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