Rincon’s city council likely will start hitting violators where it hurts — their wallets — as they get ready to put two ordinances into effect.
The city has decided to start adding a minimum administrative fee to all municipal fines. This charge will be 10 percent of the fine. In the new court cost and charges ordinance, violators may be subject to additional court and administrative fees.
The fees will be used for administrative expenses such as office supplies. It will be used to recoup the costs when a violator fails to appear in court.
An additional fee of $10 will be charged to cover technology expenses such as software and computer up-keep for the court and police department.
Interim city manager David Schofield explained that the city currently spends about $1,000 for each computer used in the police department. The department has 10 computers, one of which is used for court, and about $4,000 is spent on the department’s server. As the city’s population increases, the city will need a bigger one.
Schofield noted that city officials have been taking money out of the general fund to cover these and other technology expenses. However, with the new $10 fee assessed to each fine, the revenue garnered will help to pay those expenses. In time, it should pay all of it.
“After that fund is built, it should cover it,” Schofield said.
He noted that over the next five years, the $10 fee should save Rincon taxpayers between $15,000-$20,000.
The city council also has proposed charging a $500 fine to those who use the city’s utilities without authorization.
An ordinance to create a new section entitled “Interference with or the unauthorized use of public water or sewer utilities” states that violators will be charged $500 per violation.
Schofield admitted that a lot of the offenders have been developers and builders or their subcontractors who hook up to fire hydrants illegally instead of getting a water meter from the city to attach to the hydrant.
“The liability’s gonna be placed squarely on the shoulders of developers and builders,” he said.
As added protection, he said the city council is working on a new policy in which city employees will lock the lateral water lines that go to the water main before development begins on any piece of land.
When a developer or builder is about to begin work on a piece of land, he will have to go to city hall and get a meter. City employees then will unlock the lateral line.
Schofield acknowledged that the council chose not to pursue criminal charges against the violators.
“It can be a crime; and what we’re trying to do is not make people criminals,” he said.
Both ordinances are scheduled for a second reading at the July 2 council meeting. The June 25 meeting was cancelled due to the absence of three city councilmen.