Butler County Judge: New laws hampering speed camera programs are legal

New Miami’s controversial speed camera program will remain stalled after a Butler County judge denied motions to pause new state laws that severely cripple the village’s ability to run the revenue-generating program.

The village paused the lucrative speed cameras after a new law took effect last July that makes it financially impossible for the village to operate the cameras.

Village Solicitor Dennis Adams filed a suit in August that asked Judge Greg Howard for a temporary restraining order, and preliminary and permanent injunctions. He argued the new laws violate home rule rights to enforce traffic laws.

Howard issued his decision yesterday, saying the state didn’t overstep its authority.

“The provisions of H.B. 62 granting exclusive jurisdictions of tickets pursuant to traffic law photo enforcement programs with the municipal and county courts is a proper exercise of the power of the General Assembly,” Howard wrote. “Accordingly there is not a substantial likelihood that the village of New Miami would be successful in arguing these provisions are unconstitutional.”

Adams told the Journal-News Howard is one of only two judges in the state to find the new laws constitutional and he will likely appeal to the 12th District Court of Appeals. If he is successful in that venue the speed cameras will roll again, failure likely means the end of the police department.

Chief Ross Gilbert tendered his resignation recently to pursue another career and that will leave only about three full-time officers protecting the village.

“I’m assuming next year’s budget will not have funds available to continue with any full-time police,” Adams said. “If we don’t get the relief that I think we’re entitled to.”

When the new state transportation bill H.B. 62 passed, it reduced the amount of state financial aid local jurisdictions receive by the amount they collect annually in speed camera ticket revenue. It also mandated the courts handle speed camera citations as civil proceedings that include court fees and costs.

RELATED: New Miami: Ohio laws on speed cameras could cost us our police department

New Miami Fiscal Officer Belinda Ricketts said it would cost the village an estimated $612,000 in court costs, and tickets only generate about $222,000.

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