County tables ‘low-speed vehicles’ law

The Fayette County Board was scheduled to vote last Tuesday on an ordinance allowing the “operation of low-speed vehicles” on rural roads in the county, but action on that issue was quickly tabled.
Fayette County State’s Attorney told The Leader-Union that some time ago, he was approached about such an ordinance, and that the proposed law was drafted after it was suggested by county board member Jake Harris.
Morrison declined a request from The Leader-Union to provide a copy of the proposed ordinance prepared for last week’s meeting, saying that it would be improper because some of the information would be incorrect.
That’s the case because, as Harris said in asking that the ordinance be tabled, “I don’t think it’s ready (for a vote).”
Morrison did explain that “low-speed vehicles” that would be covered through the ordinance include all-terrain vehicles, “side-by-sides” and golf cars.
The vehicles would have to be street-legal, with brake lights, taillights and headlights. The vehicles would be allowed only on secondary roads, and while they could not be driven on highways, the ordinance would allow them to cross highways, Morrison said.
Communities within the county would not be included within the enforcement of the ordinance, he said. It would cover only the rural areas.
The ordinance would stipulate that the vehicles could be driven only by licensed drivers, that the vehicles are insured and that they pay a yearly permit fee to the county.
Permits would be issued after the vehicle is inspected by the sheriff’s office.
Asked to give his opinion on the ordinance, Sheriff Chris Smith said, “I’ve never even been shown it, and it looks like I’m the vital person, being in charge of it and running it.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “I’m not opposed to it by any means, (but) there’s a lot to get ready for.”
One of the concerns that Harris voiced is that there had been a change in where the funds for permits would go.
Originally, he said, it was to go into a fund used to purchase vehicles for the sheriff’s office. Now, the money is to go into the general fund, he said.
Harris said that he feels “at least half (of the funds)” go into a fund for sheriff’s vehicles, “or a compromise be made.
“I’m afraid that if the money goes to the general fund, it will go to something else. Our squad fleet is falling apart, in my opinion; it’s almost embarrassing,” he said.
Board member Darrell Schaal told Harris that the board has no control over monies that go into special funds, and that the county has a number of such funds.
“The money in some special funds is unreal, and we can’t touch it,” Schaal said, explaining that those funds could be used to address shortcomings in other areas.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
The ordinance will be studied by a county board committee, likely the judiciary committee, Morrison said.

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