Recipients of parking, non-moving traffic and ordinance violation tickets in Buffalo Grove could soon have their cases decided by a village hearing officer instead of a judge.
Village trustees on Monday discussed taking violations currently handled by the Lake County circuit court system and funneling them instead through a village administrative adjudication process. Under the process, someone who has received a ticket from the village would either plead guilty and pay a fine or contest it before an administrative hearing officer.
Whoever issued the ticket on behalf of the village would not be required to appear at the hearing, since the ticket serves as a sworn affidavit. The village would only be required to prove a preponderance of the evidence, and the violator would be entitled to an appeal before the circuit court.
Officials believe the setup would save both village employees and people who receive tickets time and money by avoiding court proceedings, and also lead to the village collecting more revenues from fines.
"It looks like it's a win-win for a number of reasons," Trustee Steven Trilling said. "It's going to save the potential violator a lot of money by doing this. It's going to bring more money into the village."
Trilling even suggested that maybe the village could hold hearings at night.
The village already passed an ordinance establishing local adjudication in 2004, as well as an ordinance allowing the adjudication of administrative vehicle tows. However, these only addressed impounded vehicles and not parking or other ordinance violations.
"There are a lot of benefits on both sides of the equation for local adjudication," Police Chief Steven Casstevens said. "It certainly benefits the village that we have local control over the process. Probably the biggest benefit is 100 percent of the fine from adjudication goes directly to the village."
For example, if a non-moving traffic violation is adjudicated in Lake County, the typical base fine is $120, plus an additional $175 to $225 in fees that the court applies. If the same offense were adjudicated in the village, there would only be a $50 or $75 fine and a $25 fee.
It would also be an increase to the total fees the village collects, because, under the current setup, the village gets only 34 percent of the fine.
The village is still a long way from putting the plan in place.
On April 14, the village board is expected to discuss an ordinance to expand the hearing process. If approved, the village would contract through the state comptroller's office for a private collection agency and also hire an administrative adjudicator. The target date for the system to be up and running is Dec. 18.