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Auditor General Jack Wagner Finds Hartleton Police Citations Filed Under Wrong Code, Costing State $35,000
Harrisburg (Jan. 31, 2006) – The Borough of Hartleton Police Department, in Union County, repeatedly cited traffic violations under the wrong code, allowing the borough to improperly keep the fines collected within the local municipalities at a cost of more than $35,000 to the commonwealth, Auditor General Jack Wagner said today.
A report of District Court 17-3-02 released by the Department of the Auditor General shows that, from 2001 through 2004, Hartleton Borough officers issued 674 traffic citations under local ordinance codes instead of under state statutes, as required by Pennsylvania law. The $70,552 in fines assessed and collected was remitted in full to the Hartleton municipality where the citations were issued. The vast majority of citations were issued for speeding violations.
Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code requires that the citations issued by the Hartleton borough be filed under state statute when applicable; if the citation is written by a local municipality, 50 percent of the money must be remitted to the commonwealth.
Auditors determined that District Court 17-3-02 owes the commonwealth $35,276. The Department of Revenue will determine what action the commonwealth will take to settle the balance due on the district court’s account.
“Revenue accrued from traffic violations that belongs to the commonwealth must go to the commonwealth,” Wagner said. “We will work closely with the Department of Revenue and the Union County District Court to make sure these legal obligations are met.”
Local ordinance citations do not result in points against the driver or an increase in insurance premiums. Filing the violations under local ordinances also prevented the state from accruing an additional $27,550 in Catastrophic Fund surcharges and $6,850 in Emergency Medical Services fines; the money will not be recouped by the commonwealth because it was never assessed or collected by the borough.
Union County Magisterial District Judge Jeffery L. Mensch said in the audit report that, as of April 2005, local ordinance violations used in place of state statute were no longer being accepted.
Auditors also found inadequate procedures for the issuance of warrants at the Union County district court. According to the report, out of the 19 warrants issued to enforce collection from defendants who failed to make required payments, four were issued late and 11 were not issued at all. Auditors cited similar conditions in three prior audit reports.
Wagner recommended that the district court review and correct the district court’s procedures for issuing warrants.
The audit report covered the period from Jan. 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2004.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us
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