Coming soon to a rearview mirror near you -- the chance to pay for police fuel, and I'm not talking about buying 'em a bag of donuts either...

***

I was making my law enforcement rounds awhile back.

Saw an officer of the law sitting in an office.

I joked to him: "How come you're not out patrolling and crushing crime?"

He joked in response: "I'm busy saving the city money by not burning gasoline."

We shared a few more laughs, then I went on about my rat-killing.

The exchange set me to thinking: Soaring fuel costs must be eating a hole in the city budget, and the county's as well.

Other than writing more tickets to pay for the increased cost of gasoline -- thereby gaining a reputation of a speed trap, which could scare off the tourist dollars this area so desperately wants -- what's the answer?

Well, here's a suggestion that can raise money without raising property taxes.

Wonder how?

The envelope, please. (drum roll here.)

How about a fuel surcharge on your next speeding ticket?

Don't laugh.

Holly Springs, Georgia, population 7,700, is doing exactly that.

Drivers caught speeding in the north Atlanta suburb now have to pay an extra $12 to cover fuel costs for the police officers who stopped them.

The fee increase actually applies to all moving violations, not just speeding tickets.

Here's a question for our budget makers -- the elected and appointed officials in charge of making our tax dollars go as far as possible. Why not consider a fuel surcharge? The airlines do. Lots of pizza delivery places do.

People complain about these "add-on" taxes, but they have little choice but to pay them, unless they want to walk and go hungry.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there's money out there to be made to help Chickasaw municipalities hit by soaring fuel bills.

Insurance companies already practice a version of the fuel surcharge tax. When you get a speeding ticket, you're basically voluntarily taxing yourself to pay the higher costs of your premium.

Municipal officials may also consider a sliding surcharge: the faster, the higher. The insurance companies basically already do the same thing. The higher the speed listed on your ticket, the more your premium rises.

A fuel surcharge added to tickets would be a democratic tax -- one people voluntarily place on themselves when they break the law.

It's a self-taxing system. If you don't break the law, you don't pay the tax.

Don't do the crime if you can't pay the fine.

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