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Ohio village drafts new fine system

– A central Ohio village that lost a major part of its revenue stream when the state abolished mayor’s courts for some small villages has a new system for collecting money from traffic fines.

The village of Brice in Franklin County has installed a “civil-violations system,” in which fines are meant to be paid directly to the village, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The newspaper reports that police in the village of 114 residents have written more than 1,000 traffic citations, some for as much as $1,500 under the new system.

Citations have been issued for violations including speeding, suspended licenses and illegal window tints.

But drivers and others are questioning the system adopted a few months after state lawmakers stripped Brice and six other Ohio villages mostly supported by traffic tickets of their mayor’s courts.

The courts were banned in villages with fewer than 201 residents.

Mayor’s courts have received criticism over the years, with some believing they encourage creation of speed-traps to raise money.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Michael T. Brandt said he had never heard of a system like Brice’s new one.

“I just can’t fathom anybody trying this,” Brandt said. “It sounds like a way to circumvent the law to keep the money influx into the community.”

The village’s prosecutor, Tammy Hiland, said Brice officials know that their system is being questioned, but that they developed it “with good intentions.” She said the officials believed they were on solid ground legally.

“They didn’t feel like they were doing anything wrong,” said Hiland, who began working for the village in September.

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