KINGSPORT - Starting today, motorists in Kingsport will pay more for committing traffic and other city offenses if a police officer writes them a ticket.
Kingsport's new city court fine schedule calls for an increase in the court costs associated with paying a citation.
The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December voted to approve the new fee schedule, which moves the court costs from $13.75 to $50.
"Basically we're just coming up to what everybody else is doing. We were behind the times," said Kingsport Police Department Community Relations Officer Tom Patton.
The new fee puts Kingsport on the level with other local municipalities, officials said. Johnson City's court costs are $50, Bristol's are $61, and Mount Carmel's are $32.75.
The change increases a ticket for things like disorderly conduct, animal violations and noise violations from $63.75 to $100 - an increase of $36.25.
Speeding tickets will increase from $42.75 to $80 for speeding up to 15 mph over the limit, from $48.75 to $85 for speeding 16 mph to 20 mph over the limit, from $58.75 to $95 for speeding 21 mph to 25 mph over the limit, and from $63.75 to $100 for speeding more than 25 mph over the posted limit.
The change came about after a fee committee made up of city staff looked across the board at Kingsport's schedule of fees and charges and whether they should be raised, lowered or left alone.
The schedule of fees and charges can be found in the city's code of ordinances and includes building permits, demolition work, overdue library books, rental fees for city facilities, and rezoning requests.
The committee did not review property taxes or water and sewer rates, and the increase does not affect parking fines.
Those costs will remain the same at a warning for first over the limit violation, $6 for the second violation, $8 for the third violation, $13 for the fourth violation, and $26 for the fifth violation.
Also, citations for parking in a "No Parking" zone remain at $26, disabled parking violations remain at $51, city parks curfew violations remain at $75, parking in a fire lane violations remain at $51, and blocking emergency access also stays at $51.
In addition to the city court costs increase, the BMA also approved increasing building permit fees.
When the BMA was considering the change, interim Police Chief Gale Osborne told the panel that costs had not increased in more than 25 years.
"When you look at it in that respect, our (court costs) were way behind the times. We're just trying to come in line with some other cities, and it's overdue to raise court costs," Osborne said.
The additional money will "help curb some of the costs whether it's city attorney fees, records clerks and maintenance."