If the Haines ad hoc committee tasked with scrutinizing the minor offenses ordinance has its way, the long list of wrongdoings might get a lot shorter. The committee’s recommendations have to get approved by the assembly, and there are still a lot of public meetings to go, but Thursday’s meeting was a big step toward the goal of simplifying the ordinance. If the committee’s recommendations come to fruition, one local law that would change is the prohibition of skiing on local roadways.
Committee members rolled up their sleeves and got to work last week, making short work of the ordinance. They agreed with most recommendations submitted over the past several months by other groups like the Public Safety Commission and the Tourism Advisory Board. But when it came to Section 10, they decided to endorse scrapping the whole thing. It deals with local traffic laws, and has about 80 different violations, including skiing on borough roadways.
The majority of those traffic violations were adopted directly from Alaska Statues, and the committee agreed having them in borough code is redundant.
Sgt. Josh Dryden was on hand to answer questions about public-safety-related violations. He said that the state infractions are usually correctable offenses. When a police officer writes a ticket that is in both state statute and borough code, the officer chooses which government gets the fine.
“If I wanted to write a speeding ticket under borough code, so the borough would receive the money instead of the state, I would just put HBC and the code instead of AS and the code,” he said.
So, the borough could stand to lose that money from fines. But, the fines are small and, Dryden said, leaving them in code for the simple fact that they could bring in a few bucks is tricky territory.
“I can’t look at it like that because that’s policing for profit and you don’t want to become known for that.”
Committee member Margaret Friedenauer then asked Dryden if any of the money collected from Section 10 fines goes back into funding the police department. It’s doesn’t, he said.
“You can look at our income that we bring in from the police department and it’s not much.”
Friedenauer made a motion to recommended striking Section 10 from code and going with state law. If the assembly accepts that recommendation, it would mean that skiing on the shoulders or sidewalks of borough streets would be allowed. It would also tighten restrictions on driving a snowmachine or ATV on the road. State law says that, for the most part, it’s not allowed.
The committee went through the other sections, sending a couple to the police department for review before making a recommendation. The committee will continue to discuss the ordinance, and agreed that a public forum would be helpful. At the next meeting, on Feb. 4, the committee will decide whether violation appeals will stay within the administration or go through court system.