BOROUGH GOES TO THE DOGS FOR REVENUE
Red Bank Court Clerk Fran Pastoriza at last night’s budget Q&A at borough hall.
A dog-and-pony show last night on the proposed 2008-’09 Red Bank budget included a plea for higher municipal court penalties for violations such as drinking in public and letting a dog bark continuously.
Municipal court clerk Fran Pastoriza said heftier fines are needed for second and subsequent offenses to put teeth into quality-of-life ordinances.
Increases would also bring Red Bank’s schedule of penalties more in line with nearby towns, some of which take a bigger bite out of the wallets of first offenders than Red Bank does to repeat violators, she said. [Click on comparative data, above, prepared by Pastoriza.]
She recommended minimum fines of $50 for unlicensed dogs, dogs at large and dog barking, up from the minimum $25. She also called for minimum fines of $250 for convictions in cases of public drinking or public urination, up from the present $203.
“It’s very frustrating if you have someone with a fourth violation,” she said.
In 2007, the court collected $1.34 million in fees and penalties, of which $833,449 was retained by the borough. That was up 7.2 percent from the $777,116 steered into borough coffers in 2006.
Pastoriza did not call for an increase in the overtime parking fine, now at $38.
Are her recommendations on the table for possible action by the council?
“Absolutely,” said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels. “All our department heads were told to come up with comparisons to other towns and the state to see if we want to adjust our fees.”
Pastoriza’s survey of select Monmouth County towns found a wide range of penalties, though few were lower than Red Bank’s. At the top end, Deal imposes $500 mandatory fines on all violations; Marlboro’s start at $88 and go up to $500. Sea Bright hits public pissers for $524.
Red Bank’s top possible fine is currently $253 for drinking in public.