CASH, Ark. – The City of Cash, Arkansas is not a speed-trap, a prosecutor has found after a 2017 legislative audit indicated the city may have been out of compliance with Arkansas law.
The confusion seems to have been caused by fines being deposited into one account from all sources. These fines were measured as exceeding 30-percent of the municipality’s total expenditures – the legal limit for collecting fines and costs from traffic offenses. However, many of the fines included in the account were from sources Chief Deputy Prosecutor Grant DeProw said should not have counted toward the limit.
Examples of revenue sources DeProw said should not have been counted included fines and costs collected from Arkansas State Police during their traffic stops. Also deposited into the account were non-traffic offense fines and costs, like domestic violence charges, drug arrests, non-traffic city ordinance violations, and DWIs. Even an appropriation from the District Court for equipment purchase and maintenance was believed to have been deposited into the account.
Once the accounting procedures were compensated for, DeProw calculated the actual amounts of fines and costs as a percentage of total expenditures:
- 2014: 7%
- 2015: 17%
- 2016: 22%
DeProw’s letter, attached below, said he accounted for, “significant highway improvements through Cash in 2016 and the increased traffic flow.”
“I recommend that you modify your accounting procedures to distinguish between traffic and non-traffic fines,” DeProw wrote. “This would allow future auditors a clearer picture of your compliance with the Speed Trap Law and would avoid any appearance of impropriety by the city and its police department.”
Another rule which a municipality must adhere to is that no more than 50-percent of tickets must be written to drivers who were going less than 10 mph over the limit. Of the 1,869 traffic citations during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 period, only 30 were written for less than 10 mph over the limit. This is 1.6-percent of all tickets written.
The population of Cash, Arkansas is 364, public data from U.S. Census Bureau via Google. The average number of tickets written per year for the aforementioned period was 623 – although averages would indicate many more written per year for 2016.