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Decrease in citations could mean revenue loss for Superior

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SUPERIOR, WI-- During Wisconsin's "Safer at Home" order, the Superior Police Department has been issuing fewer parking and traffic citations to drivers, which city leaders say could lead to budget issues down the road.

Police data shows parking tickets issued between March 25 and April 23 this year are down almost 200 from the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, Superior's traffic citations, which include drunk driving and speeding, are down 92% during the same time period.

Superior Police Chief Nick Alexander credits this to fewer people being out on the road, and the police department having new guidance to make only necessary stops.

"Look at violations in terms of do they have a meaningful impact on public safety," Alexander said. "Just as a practice, we've reduced the number of people we're stopping."

Alexander says these adjustments were made to eliminate any contact and potential exposure between officers and the community.

While not getting pulled over is saving drivers money, Alexander says it's actually costing the city.

"Over the course of the year, we might bring in $100,000 to $120,000 dollars a year in annual revenue," Alexander said.

Alexander says money collected from traffic citations goes to the state; while the money collected from parking citations goes to the city's general revenue fund.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine says that loss of revenue and the city canceling late fees on utility bills means a big hit to the city's general fund.

"Losses of revenue are fairly substantial, we could be looking at a $600,000 shortfall as a whole," Paine said.

Paine says all city budgets are being impacted, but the impact will look different for each budget.

"We have to see just how big a crisis we're facing," Paine said. "We won't know that until the crisis is over and our revenue streams start to rebound."

The general revenue fund pays the salary of all Superior city employees. At this point, Paine says he has no plans to layoff or furlough any city employees.

He adds that he's working on plans for how to make up lost revenue.

"The good news is this is a year long crisis, and we have a 2020 general fund," Paine said. "And it's still early in 2020. So we have time to try and make it through a variety of ways."

He says some of those proposals include using surplus funds from 2019's budgets.

Paine is asking every city department to look at budgets and see if there are areas they can make cuts.

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Emma Quinn

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