Weathersfield OKs speed camera revisions

WEATHERSFIELD — Township trustees have approved needed revisions to their speed camera program to be in compliance with changes being made by the state, with local municipal courts to soon handle traffic citations filed by township police.

Approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine as part of the state’s transportation bill earlier this year, the changes that take effect July 3 will require local officials to adjust the programs in their communities and could cost them state money that bolsters local governments.

The new law makes many changes, perhaps the most impactful a reduction in local government funds paid by the state equal to the amount of fines collected, except if the violation occurs in a school zone.

In addition, citations will be issued to a municipal or county court, where motorists can contest the ticket, instead of through administrative hearings, which is the practice now. Law Director Cherry Poteet told trustees at Tuesday’s meeting the amendment to the current policy is needed because the state changed the traffic hearing process. As of July 3, the township no longer will have the administrative hearings, but instead they will be held in Niles Municipal Court.

Township police have used the speed cameras for the past two years and had Carol Sopkovich oversee the hearings in the township. Poteet said this will be more work for the courts to handle.

“We would prefer not to have the change, but will follow the law and deal with this,” said Trustee Chairman Steve Gerberry.

Girard Municipal Court, Niles Municipal Court and Warren Municipal Court next month will all have to start working with the communities that run the cameras in their jurisdictions — Girard, Liberty, Weathersfield and Howland.

Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem previously said court officials will meet with representatives from the communities to agree on court costs for citations to be filed with the court, a day the civil citations can be disputed, and to ensure the citations are filed with a deposit with the court when they are issued.

“There will be a lot of logistics to sort out, and a lot more paperwork,” Girard Judge Jeffrey Adler said previously.

But, the systems are largely automated and the courts will have no problem handling the new citations, the judges have said.

Sherry Rose, clerk of Niles Municipal Court, said it will take a few adjustments with the court’s software, but the increase in citations will be handled without requiring any new staff.

In other business, trustees said the deadline for letters of interest from residents for the vacant trustee seat is 4 p.m. Thursday. The seat became open when former trustee Gil Blair was appointed as the 63rd Ohio House District representative seat that became open when Glenn Holmes was named to the Ohio Parole Board.

Blair was among six candidates who applied for the position. He will fill Holmes’ unexpired term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2020. The person selected will fill Blair’s unexpired trustee term through Dec. 31.

Gerberry said interviews will be scheduled with a person to be selected in a week or two and in place for the July 9 meeting.

“We will have a new trustee sitting up here with us by next month,” he said.

Those seeking to fill the vacancy must be qualified electors of the township 18 years or older and cannot hold another office or employment that is in conflict with the trustee post.

Letters can be dropped off or mailed to the township administration building, 1451 Prospect St., Mineral Ridge.