New Miami asks judge to rule against state, allow speed camera program to resume

Speed cameras might be rolling again in New Miami after Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard issues his decision on a motion for a temporary restraining order against the state and the new restrictions imposed on the use of the photo speed catchers.

Village Solicitor Dennis Adams file the suit late last month that asks Howard for a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions against the state. During a hearing Thursday the judge took the matter under advisement.

Adams told Howard if the law remains in place the village will have to lay off its entire police department and cut Chief Ross Gilbert back to part-time. When the new state transportation bill passed, it reduced the amount of state financial aid local jurisdictions receive by the amount they collect annually in speed camera ticket revenue. It also mandated the courts handle speed camera citations as civil proceedings that include court fees and costs.

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During the hearing New Miami Fiscal Officer Belinda Ricketts said it would cost the village an estimated $612,000 in court costs and tickets only generate about $222,000.

“From a financial standpoint it would cost the village almost three times more than it generates to run that program,” Adams said. “Just from the financial aspect alone it would make it impossible for the village of New Miami to run that automated speed enforcement program, the village would effectively lose its entire police force.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office argues the state controls its own spending and has jurisdiction over lower courts. Assistant Attorney General Jeff Boucher told Howard Adams hasn’t offered any real evidence that the village will be irreparably harmed, one of the standards for an injunction.

“At one point counsel said it’s common sense that if you decrease your officers, safety is going to be affected,” Boucher said. “Common sense is not the standard in this hearing, clear and convincing evidence is, and there is no clear and convincing evidence to that proposition. And it’s not there because we don’t have any numbers.”

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