Moss proposes municipal ordinance violations

At Monday’s Henderson City Council meeting, City Manager Jerry Moss proposed enacting a municipal ordinance violation program for the City of Henderson.

Essentially, the proposal amounts to the City enforcing its own ordinances with summary fines. Roanoke Rapids was cited by Moss as an example of a municipality with such a program in effect.

The program is a potential revenue stream for the City and could make the Henderson Police Department as well as the Henderson Fire Department revenue-producing City departments. During Monday’s meeting, there was discussion of increasing the revenue potential of City departments.

The use of traffic violation fines as a governmental revenue stream has been controversial in the past and has led to accusations of ticket quotas, explicit or implicit, within enforcement agencies.

North Carolina general statute forbids the Highway Patrol from traffic ticket quotas. That statute may be read here. It is unknown if Henderson has an ordinance against traffic violation quotas.

Moss’ proposal will also cover some moving violations which are currently enforced under Section 20 of state code.

According to Moss, the violations issued by the City would not go through the court system. The City would, however, have to adopt a specific ordinance and have a fee set aside for each violation.

Moss claimed that people like the arrangement better.

Council member Bernard Alston, a criminal trial lawyer, agreed with Moss, indicating that the City enforcing its own ordinance rather than the state’s Chapter 20 does not violate Chapter 20. He also confirmed that the public likes this type of enforcement better because it will not affect insurance rates.

Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert indicated that in such arrangments, if the fine is not paid the violation subsequently becomes a state violation.