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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Strings attached

Muncie wants to use money from the federal government's stimulus program to rehire five laid-off police officers. But the money comes with a catch -- it funds only three years, and the city has to prove it can handle a fourth year on its own. The city won't have enough property tax revenue for the salaries in year four, so it is considering some creative alternatives, including a "surcharge" on local traffic tickets:

Police Chief Deb Davis said she estimated the surcharge would generate about $105,000 over three years, or less than one-third of the money required to pay for the officers salaries in the fourth year.

"This is not going to provide it all," she said. "This is kind of opening the door."

The chief dismisses concerns that the ordinance might "cause officials to write more tickets or turn Muncie into a speed trap." I'm not so sure about that. The department will depend on the surcharge for full staffing, and we expect officers not to try to increase the number of tickets? And there's another concern no one is even addressing. What about year five, and year six, and year seven, and . . .?