The State Auditor, Nicole Galloway, has begun looking into St. Louis-area municipalities regarding traffic revenue. These audits are due to the new law which limits fines, bans failure to appear charges for missing a court date, bans jail as a sentence for minor traffic offenses and restricts the revenue from court fines and fees.
Pursuant to the new law, cities are required to provide financial reports annually. Failure to do so could trigger loss of sales tax revenue and transfer of all pending cases to the county circuit court. Judges in each municipality must verify that the courts are in compliance.
Most recently Foristell, a municipality of 500, located on I-70 in St. Charles and Warren Counties the auditor’s office reviewed warrant fees. In the past, Foristell issued a $100 warrant fee for individuals that failed to pay their fines or appear in court. In 2014, this practice generated more than $65,000. Foristell has since stopped this practice.
Further Foristell had bookkeeping errors and other practices that may impair impartiality or damage credibility. Plea agreements were not always signed by the prosecuting attorney and the court issued two fees related to a failure to appear.
Also investigated was the municipality of St. Ann. St. Ann is located by the St. Louis Airport on I-70. Here, the auditor questioned a bond processing fee which had resulting in $38,000. Again the city has dropped the practice, even though they state they had authority to collect the fees. City officials stopped accepting cash bonds to reduce the need for those additional fees.
The Auditor’s office indicated that the process worked due to local officials taking immediate action to end collection of questionable fees after the issue was raised.