How should STOP DWI monies be spent?

NORWICH – How Chenango County decides to spend the approximately $120,000 in revenues collected annually from drunk driving convictions came under intense scrutiny Wednesday at a meeting of the Safety & Rules Committee.

Town of Plymouth Supervisor Jerry L. Kreiner pointed to a number of discrepancies and potential legal violations in the distribution, a process which involves the Chenango County Traffic Safety Board, Stop DWI coordinator and the committee.

Plymouth’s request in August 2008 for $800 per year for a software maintenance program - which they say prevents court cases from falling through the cracks - was denied in November. The request first went before the Traffic Safety Board, where members voted to deny it, then to Stop DWI Coordinator Jan Miles, who presented the same recommendation to Safety & Rules.

Safety & Rules is charged with monitoring Stop DWI’s budget and making resolutions for the use of funds to the county’s Finance Committee. Finance would then have the option of forwarding any decision it makes onto the full Chenango County Board of Supervisors.

Reading from Board of Supervisors’ minutes going back to 1968 when the Traffic Safety Board was created and again in 1981 when the Stop DWI program was established, Kreiner said his findings verify that the board has no authority to legislate the spending of drunk driving revenues. He further told the committee that Stop DWI’s charter mandates that its coordinator not be in law enforcement. The fact that some of the Traffic Safety Board’s 15 members are retired and current police officers represents a conflict of interest, he said.

“They (board members) shouldn’t be voting on requests,” said Kreiner. “It’s this committee’s job to determine where the money is spent, not the Traffic Safety Board’s to hold votes.”

Kreiner also said he was not notified within a reasonable amount of time to appear before the board to present Plymouth’s request (a step in the process that he questioned) and, when he attended a second meeting, was surprised to find that business was conducted at a restaurant.

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