New surcharges would boost the cost of traffic tickets, civil-court filings

2014-05-12T00:00:00Z 2014-06-03T15:15:35Z New surcharges would boost the cost of traffic tickets, civil-court filingsBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Drivers caught speeding or otherwise violating the rules of the road in unincorporated Pima County could soon be paying an extra $37 for their missteps.

That’s on top of the $176 or more it already costs speeders in fines and court surcharges, depending on how fast they were clocked going. (See details on A6.)

And speeders aren’t the only ones who would be getting hit.

Pima County wants to add a $20 fee for all civil traffic cases, as well as for filing civil and eviction complaints.

The $20 county fee would be levied in addition to a new state surcharge of $17 for traffic tickets, bringing the total hike for traffic violations to an additional $37, according to a memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The additional revenue would go to help pay operational costs for the new county public service center, Huckelberry said.

The fee could raise up to $1 million, based on current caseloads, and would primarily pay for security expenses in the 117,000-square-foot facility, he said.

Huckelberry said it will cost about $3.2 million for operational expenses for the building.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the new fees would become effective next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“Given the demands of these operating costs, it has become necessary to defray these operating costs through a Court Operations Fee,” Huckelberry said in the memo.

Huckelberry elaborated in a subsequent interview, saying the money would pay for security guards, metal detectors and scanning equipment.

The facility will incur greater costs than other county buildings because of its size and the amount of space needed for the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, which will also require more security.

“The operational costs are higher than most of our other buildings because of the significant security element,” Huckelberry said.

The justice court will move to the building, as will the county treasurer, the assessor’s office, the constables’ offices and other departments currently housed in the old Pima County Courthouse at 115 N. Church Ave.

The county had to pick up additional costs for the facility after the city of Tucson pulled out of the project last year.

Huckelberry said the county paid $22 million from its general fund to pay for constructing the shell of the building, and borrowed $58 million for interior improvements.

Supervisor Richard Elías said the potential fee increase is unfortunate, but necessary to help pay for the building’s operational expenses.

However, he said, it’s better to charge a targeted fee to help pay for the expenses than to spread the burden to all taxpayers.

“It is a way of recapturing the costs that will incur,” Elías said. “It’s the cost of doing business.”

The building is expected to open next year.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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