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Sweden Town Council Has a Hissy-Fit because of Village Court

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It is really strange and self-defeating that the Sweden Town Council is dragging its feet on the 60 Clinton Street Project.

Granting the 421-M tax exemption to save the historic building is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The town wins, the village wins, the county wins, and the taxpayers win. Nobody loses.

So why are the members of the Sweden Town Council so dead set against approving the 421-M tax exemption?

The answer may be that the members of the Sweden Town Council are having a hissy fit over losing the court revenues generated by the traffic tickets written by the Brockport Police Department.

Traffic tickets, written by the Brockport Police Department, account for 60% of the income of the Sweden Town Court.

But because the Sweden Town Court has been so badly mismanaged for years, the Village of Brockport has moved to establish a Village Court.

When that happens, the Town of Sweden will lose $80,000 to $100,000 of income every year, depending on the number of tickets issued each year.

That could be the reason why the Sweden Town Council is so dead set against approving the 60 Clinton Street rehabilitation project.

They are mad that they got caught mismanaging the Town Court and now they want to get even.

Back in 2011, a series of examiner.com article exposed the fact that administration of the Sweden Town Court is a furshlugginer mess.*

For example, in 2009 the Brockport Police Department issued 1610 parking tickets. But the Sweden Town Court only processed 928 of those tickets.

In 2010 the Brockport Police Department issued 1798 parking tickets. But the Sweden Town Court only processed 739 of those tickets.

The 682 missing parking tickets from 2009, and the 739 missing parking tickets from 2010, were found in a cardboard box under a desk in the Sweden Town Hall.

Sweden Town Judge Bobby Connors claimed, erroneously, that it was the responsibility of the Village Prosecutor to track the scofflaws, not the responsibility of the Court.

Unfortunately, the New York State Comptroller says that is not true. According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, Division of Local Government & School Accountability:

“The Court is responsible for maintaining files of all issued parking tickets, processing them when they are paid or protested, and recording the dispositions.”

“The Justice must also ensure that unpaid tickets are properly enforced.”

The word on the street is that back in the era of the cardboard box of parking tickets under the desk, a Sweden Court Clerk was quietly allowed to resign her position after it was discovered that she was skimming money from the parking ticket fines. When people paid their parking ticket fines with cash, she tore up the paperwork and pocketed the money.

Who knows if this is true? But it adds to the distrust, and the Town Council did absolutely nothing to shed light on the truth.

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

In October 2012 the Village took action, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town of Sweden to have Fundamental Business Service, a collection agency that works with justice courts, pursue collection of delinquent tickets.

Prior to that, Brockport’s average annual income from parking tickets had been $27,600.

But, in the first eight months of 2013, Brockport realized $62,765. Of that, $13,650 was owed to Fundamental Business Service, leaving the village with an eight-month net income from parking tickets of $49,000.

Remarkably, $33,000 of that income was from delinquent tickets.

The gross mismanagement of the Sweden Town Court finally forced the Village of Brockport to take action on October 7, 2013 to start the process of creating a Village Court.

Moreover, once the Brockport Village court starts operation, the Town of Sweden will be stuck with the cost of the extraneous town judge and an extra court clerk, because the third town justice authorized by the Town of Sweden is neither required by law, nor justified by the case load.

The third town justice position seems to be nothing more than a patronage job created by the town Council to reward one of their buddies for loyal service to the Sweden Republican Committee.

On September 16, 2013, Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman delivered a comprehensive report to the Village Board on the formation of a Village Court.

The information in the report is remarkable similar to the conclusions reached by the Ad Hoc Committee on a Village Court in March 2011.

According to the Office of the State Comptroller, the Town of Sweden has been making a lot of money from the traffic tickets written by the Brockport Police Department.

For example, in 2011the Sweden Town Court had a net revenue $144,238 from those tickets and in 2012 it had a net revenue of $135,709.

Projected Revenue for a Brockport Village Court

Financial information sources
Brockport % of Sweden Town Court (STC)..................60%
STC revenue that remains local—
average of 2011/2012 local revenue............................$140,000
Village Ordinance (VO) and parking fines—
average of 2011/2012.....................................................$55,531

Based on 2011-2012 figures

60% STC local revenue...........................................$84,000
VO and parking.........................................................$55,531
Total village court income.........................................$139,531

So rather than tolerate continued mismanagement of the Sweden Town Court, the Village Board voted to move ahead with the creation of a Village Court.

Meanwhile, instead of admitting that the Sweden Town Court has been grossly mismanaged for years, the members of the Sweden Town Council bury their heads in the sand.

Then they lash out at the Village for being fiscally responsible about the court revenues generated by the traffic tickets written by the Brockport Police Department.

Think about it. The lost revenue from the traffic tickets may be what’s behind the strange and self-defeating behavior of the Sweden Town Council.

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