Jackson County city owes money for violating speed trap law, according to state audit

LONE JACK, Mo. - A Jackson County community with a "speed trap" reputation owes the state money for its traffic ticket enforcement, according to a report by Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

The audit determined the City of Lone Jack should send a check of $119,353 to the Department of Revenue for violating the Macks Creek law.    

Read the audit here: http://on.mo.gov/Tj4SL8  

 

The statute limits the amount of revenue communities can collect for traffic tickets: No more than 35 percent of their operating budget from fines and court costs associated with violations on state and federal highways. The excess revenue is supposed to be distributed to schools.

In Nov. 2010, a 41 Action News investigation identified Lone Jack as a likely violator of the Macks Creek law for its speed enforcement along Highway 50. The investigation also found the law was nearly impossible to enforce, and it was up to towns to police themselves.

In Feb. 2011, 41 Action News reported that Lone Jack was the first city ever in Missouri to send the state a check for collecting too much traffic revenue. The amount was $19,205.47.

The state audit said Lone Jack officials have since tried to track the 35 percent threshold, but have incorrectly calculated their operating budget.

In 2011 and 2012, Lone Jack determined it did not owe the Department of Revenue money. Schweich's audit disagreed, saying the city should pay $62,413 for 2011 and $36,961 for 2012.

"It's a math disagreement," said Spence Jackson, a spokesman for the State Auditor.

Lone Jack Mayor Ken Krawchuk would not answer any questions about the audit, referring all 41 Action News questions to the city's attorney.

But in a written response contained in the audit, the Board of Aldermen said the law "vague and subject to differing interpretations."

It will be up to Lone Jack to decide if it actually owes the money. Jackson noted that his office doesn't have any authority to make municipalities pay.

Recently, audits have also cited Lanagan, Moline Acres, and Randolph for violating the Macks Creek law.

However, 41 Action News confirmed the Department of Revenue has not received payments from any of those cities.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.

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