KOUTS | The town of Kouts has been collecting fines from moving violations and depositing the money in the town's general fund instead of reporting the citations to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to a recent State Board of Accounts audit.
The June 27 audit states some $42,000 was collected by the town in 2011 for an estimated 680 moving traffic violations -- tickets -- and in 2012 about $31,000 was collected by the town for an estimated 365 citations.
“The Town is processing a majority of the moving traffic violations as ordinance violations and collecting the related fines in the Clerk-Treasurer's office. ... These fines do not agree to the fines established in the Indiana Code which specifically governs the disposition of fines and fees for the moving traffic violations,” the report states.
The report further says that statute requires moving traffic violations “to be heard in any circuit, superior, county, city, or town court or traffic violations bureau designated by these courts,” thereby allowing a violator due process of law.
“An action to enforce a statute defining an infraction shall be brought in the name of the State of Indiana by the prosecuting attorney for the judicial circuit in which the infraction allegedly took place,” says the audit, which was shared and discussed with Kouts Clerk-Treasurer Laurie Tribble on Feb. 19, 2013, and Tim Jones, president of the Town Council.
Kouts’ official response to the report was made through their attorney, Robert Schwerd. It stated the state auditor’s interpretation of the statute was incorrect and the town has created a Violations Bureau, any matters pertaining to moving violations can be resolved there rather than the courts.
He further responds that nowhere in state code does it bar a town from establishing a Violations Bureau to handle moving violations committed on town streets.
Neither Schwerd nor Tribble could be reached for comment.