According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the city of Pendergrass, Georgia took in about $558,020 in fines in 2006 — enough to pay the police department’s $312,636 budget in 2006 and then some. That’s quite a profit for any town, but it’s even more amazing when you consider that Pendergrass only has 491 residents. If you do the math that’s a bill of $1,136 per resident! That figure is by far the biggest in the state.
Either people spontaneously become much more dangerous drivers on Pendergrass’s one-mile stretch of highway or the city is trying to pad its budget by ticketing as many drivers as possible. The city can claim that it’s all about safety, but the numbers just don’t add up. Pendergrass takes in nearly five-times the revenue per resident collected by the town with the next highest police-revenue-per-resident numbers.
So why don’t the residents revolt? The answer is simple. They’re not the people getting the tickets. Because they live in the town and know the areas where the police carry out their strict enforcement, they’re largely immune to the fines being given out and receive the benefit of an increased town budget at no cost to them.
Unfortunately, out-of-state drivers and people unfamiliar with the area don’t have that luxury and find themselves paying for additional Pendergrass police resources. More police resources means more tickets. And more tickets means more revenue for the city. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be stopped through speed trap legislation.
If you’re a Georgia resident, contact your legislators and let them know that it’s not right to value revenue over safety.