Discount days for Lawrence speeders are about to come to an end.
City commissioners at their Tuesday night meeting will receive a recommendation from city attorneys to increase the fines for speeding tickets and certain types of parking violations to bring them more in line with what is charged in Douglas County District Court.
"It seems like they're more than overdue to be raised," said City Prosecutor Jerry Little, who said it had been about five years since the city increased speeding fines.
If approved Tuesday night, the fine for speeding would increase $8. That would be on top of a recent $10 increase in court costs mandated by the state. So, in total, a standard speeding ticket would cost $18 more than it did just a few months ago.
The main reason given by staff members recommending the change is that the increase would bring the city's speeding fines in line with what the state of Kansas charges in district courts across the state.
Under the new proposal, a standard ticket for going 10 miles above the limit would cost, with court costs, $90 in the city's Municipal Court and in Douglas County District Court.
Currently, for example, drivers on Iowa Street going 10 miles above the speed limit would receive $80 tickets for speeding near 34th and Iowa streets, but $90 tickets for the same offense on the same road after they cross into the county at the Wakarusa River, less than a mile south.
What do others charge?
Here's a look at what three other cities charge for a speeding ticket that is 10 miles per hour above the limit, compared with what Lawrence is proposing to charge: ¢ Lawrence: $38 fine + $52 in court costs = $90 ¢ Manhattan: $30 fine + $78 in court costs = $108 ¢ Olathe: $53 fine + $27 in court costs = $80 ¢ Topeka: $20 fine + $66 in court costs = $86
City staff attorney Scott Miller said he wasn't sure the city was well-served by having a fee system that charged someone less for committing an offense in the city than in the county.
"From a fundamental fairness perspective, we thought making those costs even would be a good thing," Miller said.
Some residents, though, expressed concern Friday that the city ought to have more reason than that to increase fines.
"If they were using the extra money to do something specific to make this an even better community, then I maybe wouldn't mind," said Lawrence resident Jesse Baker.
Others, however, said the proposed fine increases weren't too concerning.
"It would bring in more revenue for the city," said Charles Sherman, who lives in rural Lawrence. "With speeding, you're looking at the possibility of personal injuries, and you have so many people riding bikes around here that it is probably a good idea to try and deter people."
Estimates for how much new revenue the speeding fine increase could generate weren't immediately available. But since 2004 the city generally has issued about 9,000 speeding tickets in a year.
The city is allowed to keep all the fines it collects, with the majority of that money going into the city's general fund. Of the $52 in court costs, $19.50 is sent to the state for law enforcement programs. The remaining $32.50 is kept by the city to help run its Municipal Court.
People who park illegally actually might have more at stake with the changes. City staff members are proposing to increase fines for certain types of parking offenses by $10.
Those offenses primarily would be all types of parking violations other than overparking at a meter, which would not be affected. Fines for violations such as parking too close to a stop sign or parking in a no-parking zone would rise from $30 to $40 under the new ordinance.
The fine for parking in a handicapped parking space would increase from $50 to $100.
Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. The new fine ordinance is on the city's consent agenda, which is reserved for items that commissioners generally think are routine.