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State Audit Again Finds Inadequate Controls in Village of Brice’s Photo Speed Enforcement Program
For immediate release
Columbus – The Village of Brice in southeastern Franklin County again failed to implement adequate controls to ensure traffic citations issued and fines ultimately collected from automated speed enforcement cameras were in proper order, according to a formal review of financial statements released Tuesday by Auditor of State Keith Faber.
It was the third consecutive biennial audit of the village’s finances that included the internal control finding related to the fines, which accounted for the majority of the village’s general cash receipts.
Fines, licenses and permits totaled $377,517 in 2020 and $561,862 in 2019, 76% and 81% of general fund receipts, respectively. Photo speed enforcement fees made up more than 99% of fine, license, and permit collections, which totaled nearly $2.3 million from 2015-2020.
"This tiny village is a speed trap reliant on automated speeding citations to pay the bills. There's no other reason for it to exist," Auditor Faber said.
Brice continued the cameras’ use in 2019 and ’20, contracting with two outside firms to process citations, handle billing, and collect fines. Consistent with prior year reports, auditors noted, “… the village failed to maintain approval of tickets submitted to Brekford Corp. and Blue Line Solutions LLC for the photo speed enforcement program. As a result, we were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence supporting the amounts recorded as camera speed enforcement fines. Consequently, we were unable to determine whether any adjustments to these amounts were necessary.”
The use of speed enforcement cameras by Brice has been challenged in court by residents in separate lawsuits, alleging the village lacked authority to adjudicate noncriminal traffic law citations. Both cases, one filed in October 2020 and the other in January 2021, were dismissed as moot by the Ohio Supreme Court, after the village dismissed the civil actions against those who sued. A separate lawsuit on traffic enforcement cameras involving other municipalities is pending before the Ohio Supreme Court.
According to court documents, Brice “suspended its use of the traffic law photo-monitoring device as of May 24, 2021.”
In their response to the Auditor of State’s latest findings, village officials added, “The camera program is currently suspended, but when/if the village is able to resume the camera program,” increased reporting requirements will be included in contracts with the third-party administrators involved.
The full report will be available on the AOS website using Audit Search.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.