I-71 construction speed limits could cost you plenty
By Randa Wagner -
The upcoming construction on Interstate 71 involving a 27-mile stretch between SR 36 and north of SR 95 will bring with it a 55 mph maximum speed limit, with fines doubled in active construction zones.
Morrow County Municipal Court Judge Lee McClelland told commissioners at the March 4 Elected Officials meeting the 55 mph speed limit applies 24 hours a day.
“You can’t go 65 mph just because there’s no one working in a construction zone at the time,” he said. “It’s a two-point violation.”
The standard (violation) cost right now is $94, McClelland said of the initial fine, and that’s mostly state fees. Then the court charges $3 per mile an hour over the speed limit.
“So, if you were going 65 mph, for example, your fine would be $124.00,” McClelland said. “If you’re in a zone where construction is going on, it doubles the fine, so now it would be $154.00.”
McClelland said there was increase in traffic violations during the Phase 1 work last summer.
“We saw quite a few, and I imagine if they’re working all three phases, it will increase,” he surmised. “Nobody slows down – they just keep going. They could hand out tickets 24 hours a day and still not get them all.”
He suspects the county will see a substantial increase, and 90 percent of them will be waivers.
McClelland said his office is working with the state attorney general to turn over unpaid fines to the state’s collections.
“If people don’t show up within the pay period we give them, that case will electronically transfer to the attorney general’s office for collection,” McClelland said. “If they collect, they will add 10 percent to it and collect everything. Whatever they get, they send back to us and their final pay is their 10 percent. A lot of collection agencies add 30 percent; I just can’t justify that.”
Morrow County is not the first county to turn over fine collection to the state. McClelland said he has heard reports back from two or three other counties, and it’s working out well.
“The attorney general’s office has the authority to send it on to a private collector, but we’re going to have them send those back to us,” he said.
Unpaid traffic fines can result in having your license cancelled, even if you live out of state. The Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) is an interstate contract used by 44 states in the United States to process traffic citations across state borders.
In a reciprocal agreement such as the NRVC, you must pay the state you owe before you can get your license back in your home state.
The state gets the biggest majority of the fine when paid; the rest is divided between 48 different funds, McClelland said. “By the time it gets down to the county, there isn’t much left. It’s a bookkeeping nightmare.”
In other elected officials reports, Treasurer Elect Tim Garry, who begins his term September 1, 2013, introduced himself and said he is a certified public accountant who has lived in the county since June 2001 when he came to run News Color Press. He left in 2009 when Brown Publishing bought the company and now has a couple of businesses he runs in the county.
County Engineer Randy Bush reported he applied last October for an Issue 2 job on a bridge on County Road 11, The bridge is down to one lane, he said, and he has secured a grant to repair it. The total project cost is $442,301 and the grant is for $327,303. The county’s local share is $114,998.
Commissioner Tom Harden suggested Bush give the fire departments and emergency services a copy of the new bridge load limits that were recently released.
Prosecutor Charles Howland said Dave Homer has been assigned to replace Asst. Prosecutor Jocelyn Stephancin. Homer is a former assistant prosecutor for Richland County.
Sheriff Steve Brenneman reported his office received $24,617.98 from the ATF for the county’s portion of the money from the forfeitures in the Roush case.
“That all has to go into the federal drug forfeiture account,” He noted. “It has limited uses.”
Dixie Shinaberry thanked the sheriff’s office for helping with supplies for the recorder’s office. She also mentioned a long-running heat situation in her office and would like to have it resolved. Commissioner Dick Miller noted there’s a similar problem at the community services building.
Shinaberry mentioned there has been no increase in oil activity (gas leases) at her office.
Commissioner Harden said they are doing the final punchlist (checklist) on the courthouse (construction and repairs).
“We’re holding $20,000 back from the contractor until the punchlist is completed to our satisfaction,” he said.
Commissioner Dick Miller said as part of the county’s Wellness Program, a goal is to make the courthouse a smoke-free area. He has spoken to the prosecutor, who is making some recommendations.
“We’re trying to be reasonable about it but also be responsible,” he said. “Also we have a lot of people with concealed carry (license) who are employees. There are some recommended policies out there that we’re looking into.”
He added the commissioners are looking at adopting a retire/rehire policy for county employees. There seem to be different rules for people who work directly for the commissioners, he said, requiring a public hearing and 60 days in advance of retirement. Some offices have labor unions, so it’s different in other situations. “There needs to be some benefit to the county to retire/rehire.”
The next elected officials meeting is April 1 at noon, and the public is welcome to attend.