US Cities Shut Off Streetlamps to Save Money; Indianapolis Threatens $2500 Fines for Challenging Traffic Tickets

Indianapolis, Merrillville, Valparaiso, and Muncie are among the troubled Indiana cities. Please consider Indiana cities pull plug on streetlamps to save money.

Budget cuts and property tax caps are leaving many residents across Indiana in the dark.

Merrillville has turned off every other streetlight on its main roads. Valparaiso is turning off every other light in some areas and has set others to turn off at midnight. Muncie officials say the city will shut off 85 percent of overhead lights to help balance the 2010 budget.

The moves are a response to rising costs and shrinking revenue that’s the result of the ailing economy and property tax caps.

Muncie Mayor Sharon McShurley says the move could result in more than just darker streets. “I’m setting you on notice,” she told the council. “The decisions you have made, unless you reconsider the budget, are going to be detrimental to the city.”

Merrillville Public Works Director Bruce Spires said the city is more than a year behind on its NIPSCO bills. The city will turn off 300 streetlights, for a savings of about $2,000 a month.

“The town has been very aggressive in putting up streetlights for the past 15 years, especially when we can get federal funding for them,” Spires said. “You really don’t miss that they are gone,” Spires said. “There’s still plenty of light out there.”

Valparaiso officials say they aren’t sure how much electricity the city is using because it pays a flat rate per light each month, regardless of whether the light is working.

Spires admitted Merrillville is wasting Federal money by putting up unneeded lights. Clearly this is yet another example of useless GDP and wasted taxpayer money.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent (No Proof Acceptable)

Things are out of hand in Indianapolis where City Threatens $2500 Fines for Challenging Traffic Tickets.

Motorists who receive minor parking or traffic tickets in Indianapolis, Indiana are being threatened with fines of up to $2500 if they attempt to take the ticket to court. A local attorney with the firm Roberts and Bishop was so outraged by what he saw in Marion County traffic court that he filed a class action suit yesterday seeking to have the practice banned as unconstitutional.

The city made explicit the threat of additional fines for challenging parking tickets in a November 30 press release announcing a deal between Indianapolis and a private firm, T2 Systems, to hand over operations of a parking ticket court to increase municipal income.

In traffic court, Judge William Young has been making good on the threats by routinely siding with police officers in disputes and imposing fines of up to $500 on anyone who challenges a moving violation ticket, no matter how minor, and loses. Those who pay without going to court do not face this extra fine.

“The deck is stacked against the motorist,” lawyer Paul K. Ogden wrote. Ogden argues the court’s practices violate the excessive fines clause of the state constitution as well as the clause requiring that “all penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.”

Actually the $2500 fine is for not paying the fine by the due date (which is still ridiculous), but if you pay the fine, contest it and lose (which you will), they are slapping with an additional fine of $500.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Sunday, December 13, 2009

Source: Global Economic Analysis

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