Effort to curb notorious speed trap under review in Oregon

| 7/27/2005

With the Oregon Legislature expected to close down for the year as soon as mid-August, an effort to put a cap on a notorious speed trap is awaiting approval in the state’s House.

Sponsored by Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, the bill limits how much money the city of Coburg, a town of less than 1,000 people north of Eugene, is allowed to generate through speeding fines on traffic along Interstate 5.

According to The Associated Press, the cap of 10 percent of the city’s general fund would cut the Williamette Valley town’s revenues by about $180,000.

Supporters of the bill – SB1074 – said Coburg relies too heavily on traffic fines to pay for city services compared with most cities.

A survey by the League of Oregon Cities appears to support that claim.

Prozanski told legislators prior to the chamber’s 21-9 vote to advance the bill that the league found traffic fines represented about 4 percent of the average Oregon town’s general fund, with only six of those cities relying on traffic fines for more than 10 percent of their general fund with one reaching as much as 16 percent. In contrast, 25 percent of Coburg’s general fund comes from traffic fines, he said.

“The lesson here is, don’t rely on operating an I-5 speed trap to fund your city services, because there’s a day when the people say you’ve squeezed this lemon just a little too hard,” Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, recently told the news agency.

The bill, which previously passed the Senate, is in the House Budget Committee where it must be approved before heading to the full chamber. If approved there, it would go to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s desk.