Playing catch-up: City addresses old outstanding court fines

Published 11:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

City Court prosecutor Greg Malta told the Board of Aldermen at its most recent meeting that something must be done to catch up on collecting old court fines.

“There are old fines going back decades for the City Court,” Malta said. “I would like to discuss options to take care of that.”

Many of the old fines may be “uncollectable,” Malta said. Some of the people who owe the fines are in prison, or have moved out of the area and simply cannot be located.

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“I don’t think it would be financially feasible for the city to collect anything over 2 years old, which is less than 10 percent of what is owed,” the attorney said.

Malta suggested establishing an amnesty period of a set length, such as one month, to allow those who owe fines to the court to pay them at a substantially discounted amount.

“At that point, you can make a determination about what to do about what’s left, such as hiring a private collection agency,” said Malta. “See what you can get, and go from there.”

Mayor Joe Cox said the particulars would be discussed by the Board in closed executive session, but asked how those fines over so many years “fell through the cracks like that.”

“I don’t know, your honor,” Malta said. “It was several administrations ago … I can say in the past couple of years your clerk has done a good job.”

Cox thanked Malta for the information and said the board would work on the issue with the prosecutor’s assistance.