State audit of several St. Louis Co. municipal court systems ann -

State audit of several St. Louis Co. municipal court systems announced

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -- For years the complaints have been heard; speed traps, traffic tickets - small municipalities around St. Louis supposedly relying on pulling drivers over and writing a ticket to fund their city.  Now, the state is cracking down. The State of Missouri will audit the Ferguson Municipal Court.

Ferguson and several other municipalities are on the list of ten court across Missouri to be audited by the state.
State Auditor Tom Schweich announced The Municipal Courts Initiative Thursday. Auditors will be opening the books and digging deep into the courts.
Two Ferguson residents, Cordney Travis and Ruby Smith say such a move by the state to take a closer look at money generated by traffic tickets and other violation is long overdue.
"That's what all these little municipalities use, their way of getting revenue," Travis said.  “They're very adamant. They want their money,” said Smith. 
State Senator Maria Chappell-Nadal has 41 municipalities in her district, from 300 to more than 30,000 people. She says many do a good job of enforcing the laws with an eye toward safety, but some need to be questioned.
"In other parts of my district, like Pine Lawn, I have received several complaints from my constituents as well as St. Ann so this is an obvious problem,” Chappelle-Nadal said Thursday.
The St. Louis County municipalities of Ferguson, Pine Lawn, St. Ann and Bella Willa will be audited, along with Foristell in St. Charles County, Foley and Winfield in Lincoln County, Mosby in Clay county, Leadington in St. Francois county, and Linn Creek in Camden County.
The ten cities were chosen based on traffic stops per capita and public complaints. The law says no more than 30 percent of the city's revenue can come from the courts.
Schweich says he's heard concerns that this could lead to police not writing tickets and enforcing the law.
"If law enforcement is their objective, they can still write as many tickets as they want,” Schweich said in downtown St. Louis Thursday. “Our concern is when law enforcement isn't the objective, but revenue generating is.”
Schweich says the first of the audits will probably be made public in the late spring; the others in the fall of next year.
They will continue to add other municipalities to the list to be audited.

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