Pictured: Eastville’s municipal boundaries are about 160 acres in size.
By Ted Shockley
Almost three-quarters of Eastville’s annual town budget came from traffic fines during the fiscal year that ended in June 2018, the highest percentage in Virginia by far.
Only two other Virginia municipalities — neither of them on the Eastern Shore — had traffic fines and forfeitures total more than 30 percent of their budgets.
The figures came from the “Governing” magazine, which covers policy and management for state and local government leaders. The article was called “Addicted to Fines: Small towns in much of the country are dangerously dependent on punitive fines and fees.”
A synopsis of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget submitted to the state shows the town, even with the law enforcement fines, ran a $146,285 deficit. It brought in $349,232 in revenues and spent $495,517.
In the budget, Eastville received $252,556 in law enforcement revenues but spent $262,031 on public safety. It also spent an additional $224,236 on general government administration.
Eastville Mayor Jim Sturgis could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The town’s corporate limits include about 160 acres, according to the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission. Neither Northampton High School nor the new courthouse and clerk’s office are within town limits. The new Eastern Shore Rural Health medical center is also outside town limits.
The town’s population is about 200, according to an article in the Virginia Mercury, which covered Eastville’s large law-enforcement revenues.
Eastville’s police usually can be found on a Route 13 straightaway that includes a traffic signal. The town’s municipal boundaries extend only to the immediate north and south of the traffic signal.
Eastville’s town charter, adopted in 1896 and amended in 1922, allows police enforcement and arrest powers within town limits and one mile beyond town limits.