St. Landry

May 31, 2011 11:04 PM by Maddie Garrett

Washington Mayor Says State Law, Audit Target Him

The Mayor of Washington speaks out to KATC after an audit of his town was released stating he was illegally keeping revenue from traffic ticket fines. But Mayor Joe Pitre said he believes the law is unconstitutional and that he's being singled out.

In 2009 Louisiana passed the "speed trap law" calling for any traffic fines collected from speeders going 10 miles or less over the speed limit on an Interstate would be forfeited over to the State. It only effects smaller towns that don't have a home rule charter.

"Within in a week one hundred mayors signed the protest saying that it was wrong and agreed that the bill was a bad bill and it had malice intent towards Washington," said Pitre.

Only a small part of I-49 falls within Washington's city limits and officers patrol that area heavily. The money from enforcing those speed limits makes up a large and vital part of the City's revenue. In 2009 - 2010 it totaled roughly $200,000.

"That money does not belong to the State of Louisiana, that money belongs to the Town of Washington," said Pitre.

Not only does Pitre disagree with the law, he believes it was created specifically to spite him.

"Unbeknownst to me, a couple of representatives got tickets and they were upset about that and one thing led to another," he explained.

Pitre also believes the law could be racially motivated.

"Well when you treat people differently what options do you have? I've seen a lot of things happen in the past couple of years that was directed at African American mayors," he said.

Pitre said currently the town is requesting the money collected in fines be forgiven.

"We intend to fight it until justice prevails and we would also like a retraction because at this point nothing illegal has been done," said Pitre.



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