Ticket Fees Could Help Buy Radios

Gulfport and Pass Christian Police and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department are all taking advantage of a law passed in 2001. It allows cities and counties to add a $10 fee to traffic tickets.

The extra money goes into an account at the Department of Public Safety in Jackson. It can be used to help pay for 1,200 new radios.

Since July, 2001 Pass Christian has collected $15,000 from the extra fees. Chief John Dubuisson says some of that money could buy new radios for his officers.

"If the city has to pay a share on these radios, say up to that point, and then after that I could see where it would revert back to the city to use for maintenance and upkeep of the radios cause that's gonna have to be considered cause once there adios are turned over to the cities it's gonna be their responsibility to replace and maintain," says Dubuisson.

Harrison County Supervisor Larry Benefield says the ticket money won't even come close to paying nearly $6 million for radios. But Benefield says it's an option to consider.

"We all know we may have to pitch in some and what we're tryin' to do is get to that point where we have alternate revenues other than property taxes to fund this thing with."

Long Beach doesn't tack on the $10 fee. The aldermen say they aren't sure it's justified and the mayor questions whether there's other money to spend on radios.

"What's happening to the revenue from the additional charges on the resident and commercial phone lines that citizens of Long Beach are currently paying. How is that money being used and what justification are we gonna have of adding more revenue on when we don't know where the money's going right now," says Mayor Robert Bass.

E-911 Coordinator Gil Bailey says the commission nets $75,000 each month after expenses. He says that money pays for his office expenses and to help pay for the public safety dispatch centers. It also helps pay off the $15 million Harrison County borrowed to set up the consolidated radio system.