Opinion writer

Cleveland’s News 5 reports that something pretty sinister is going on in the small town of Newburgh Heights, Ohio. It appears that when motorists get into an accident, Newburgh Heights is billing them hundreds of dollars for police services. Here’s an interview with one woman who received such a bill:

Billing people for taxpayer-funded police services is already pretty scammy. But the station found another woman who was billed $436 even though local police never bothered to respond to her accident.

After dodging the News 5 cameras a few times, Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins said this practice is called “soft billing.” The motorists aren’t required to pay. It’s apparently just a suggestion — it just doesn’t say as much anywhere on the bill. If you’re from out of town, you’ll probably just pay it, probably angrily.

And most people who get such bills likely are from out of town. As News 5 reports, Newburgh Heights has less than 2,200 residents. But it does sit on a major highway. Consequently, at least 20 percent of the budget for line items such as its well-paid, 30-member police force and the modern, $2.8 million village hall … comes from traffic tickets.