As municipal court cases in Boonville are almost doubling this fiscal year, its city attorney received an additional $20,320 for the work he did in 2017. Boonville Police Chief Bobby Welliver said the increase was partly caused by the amount of traffic tickets officers issued that year.
The Boonville City Council approved the funds to Brad Wooldridge at its regular meeting Tuesday night. The city attorney said he was only requesting the bare minimum payment allowed by city ordinance, in which the hours for the city attorney are not to exceed than 180 hours a year.
“I am asking to be compensated at the bare minimum for the additional time,” he said. “We are averaging 10 hours a week.”
From April 2017 to March, there were 785 traffic citations and another 23 that were either drug or alcohol related. Wooldridge broke down the numbers and the time spent on each case. In a typical alcohol or drug related traffic case, it took one hour for each of the 23 incidents. The other 785 cases accounted for 235.5 hours, while the 153 non traffic cases take another 46 hours to complete.
Wooldridge said he came up with more than 339 hours, 159 more than what the city allowed, when looking at the bare minimum amount of time spent on cases.
To come up with the $20,320 figure, Wooldridge multiplied the extra hours to his rate of pay of $127.48 an hour.
Even with the additional pay, Wooldridge pointed out this would do nothing to compensate the extra time the office secretary works.
Second War Councilwoman Susan Meadows wanted to know how reasonable the absolute minimum is, but she quickly pointed out she had no reason to not believe the number.
Boonville increased the pay of the city attorney $20,000 in 2011.
The city attorney also gave the council a snapshot of what the future holds. In all of 2017, there were 961 cases. In the first five months of the 2018 fiscal year, there have been 804 citations issued.
Welliver said the increase is partly due to the zero tolerance policy. He said in the past, former officers did not stop as many drivers, but the younger, new officers make many more traffic stops. The number of tickets issued do not total the number of stops, as drivers are often have more than one infraction at a time.
Welliver said he told his officers not to ignore traffic violations, but his officers have the discretion on whether to write a ticket. “The whole goal is to keep people safe,” he said. “[This policy] grew out of that.”
Wooldridge said he is working with the department on transitioning to electronic tickets, so violators can pay their fines online, which will decrease the time his office spends on each citation.
“The e-ticket will make it far more efficient,” he said, adding 70 percent of the hours he works are for traffic violations. “It will be much faster for the officer in the car.”
Welliver said the city will use Rejis to install printers in all the police cars at a cost of about $10,000, and then, $297 a month for the software and 50 cents for each ticket issued. “In my humble opinion, we are going to be able to cover the cost easily,” he said.