County pushes for new traffic ticket fee

June 18

Hood River County wants to add a $5 fee to all traffic tickets brought before the Justice Court in Cascade Locks.

The new surcharge would be used to set up a mediation process to resolve residential disputes, and to find larger quarters for the court. Currently, Justice Robbie Lee presides over court proceedings in a single-wide manufactured home off WaNaPa Street in the heart of the city. Each year the rural court generates about $270,000 in revenue from tickets issued county-wide for driving infractions and violations of state weight rules by commercial truckers.

Dave Meriwether, county administrator, said if $2 from the fee increase is added into the county coffers, the court could be afforded a new home in the near future. He said the county is currently negotiating with the Oregon Department of Transportation to construct a multi-agency human resource facility on state land at the intersection of WaNaPa and Forest Lane. In addition to the court, that facility would house a second branch of the county health department and the Center for Living, which provides an array of counseling services.

He said the remaining $3 from the proposed fee would allow the county to contract with a mediation service to resolve disputes. He said timely intervention by a professional mediator could stop civil conflicts between neighbors from escalating into criminal behavior.

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A public hearing is scheduled on the fee proposal at 6 p.m. on Monday in the first floor conference room of the county administration building, 601 State St.

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