By Kris Leonhardt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Wisconsin Rapids leaders are working to combat drug use in the city. At the June 5 Common Council Committee of the Whole meeting, members voted to increase the maximum fine for possession of drug paraphernalia from $500 to $1,500.
The move was originally referred to the Common Council by District 5 Alderman Steve Koth at the April full council meeting and introduced as a first reading of an ordinance at the May council meeting.
At the May meeting, Alderman Koth said that his intension in revising the city ordinance is to “crack down on chronic drug use.”
While council members agreed that something needed to be done with the chronic situation, Alderman Jake Cattanach stated “They are not paying clients; they will not have the money (to pay the increased fine.)”
Alderman Joe Zurfluth added that “subsequent offenders are the problem.”
Koth said the council “needed to start exploring something.”
“We need to send a message that Rapids won’t be a home to drugs,” he said.
Cattanach stated that while the drug issue needed to be addressed, the change was too broad.
After a motion was made to give the fine increase more consideration, the matter was brought to the Committee of the Whole on June 5.
There, Koth introduced a three-tiered system that would give first offenders a $250 fine, second offenders a $500 fine, and third offenders a $1,500 fine.
The increase was passed and will now go to the full council on June 19 for approval.