CONWAY, Ark. – A central Arkansas town that got about a third of its revenue from fines has agreed to closer scrutiny if it can resume patrolling highways where authorities say it set up an illegal speed trap.
Damascus’ revenues from fines had exceeded 30 percent of expenditures for each of the two previous years.
The sanctions prohibit the city from patrolling traffic along a stretch of U.S. 65 that connects Conway to Branson and a state highway, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. They are set to continue to the end of the year.
Circuit Judge Chris Carnahan in February rejected the city’s allegations that the speed-trap law was unconstitutionally vague and arbitrary. Carnahan hasn’t yet ruled if the financial data used by the state police were properly interpreted and used.
Prosecutor Luke Ferguson said he’ll review the written request from Damascus City Attorney Beau Wilcox. The request said Damascus would agree to additional auditing and accounting measures “for a finite period” because of concerns about its Police Department’s alleged abuse of power in generating city revenue.
Wilcox also proposed that the city provide the prosecutor’s office with financial data “as a means of verifying its genuine mission to maintain traffic safety rather than generate revenue.”
Wilcox said Damascus “has taken steps to ensure that employees do not abuse their authority and discretion.”
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com