Justice Court has record month in fee collection

Published 11:54 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

February was a record month for he Pearl River County Justice Court in terms of the amount of fees and fines collected, said Justice Court Clerk Debbie Amacker.

“We took in $126,483.69 for the month of February, which, as best I can tell, is a record,” Amacker said.

Amacker said February is a good month for fine collection, because a lot of people are starting to get tax refunds and use the extra cash to pay their fines.

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“My girls are working really hard and constantly sending out notices of fines, and they’re diligent about sending license suspension notices to the state if needed. I have to give credit where credit is due. If it wasn’t for these girls, we wouldn’t be doing this well. … They’re working real hard to get people to pay their fines,” Amacker said.

Amacker said the department is now able to accept credit and debit cards for payment, but does not think that explains the increased number of fees collected.

“We only did $6,500 in credit and debit card payments, so that wasn’t really a factor. Most of the payments are in cash and checks,” Amacker said.

Amacker said although most payments are in cash, she does not keep much cash in the office.

“We make deposits every day. We can make change for people if we have it, but a lot of times we don’t have it, because we have made deposits and don’t keep very much cash on hand,” Amacker said.

Amacker said once a person’s court date has passed, Justice Court sends a notice to that individual letting them know they have 10 days in which to pay the fine. If the fine is not paid within 10 days, a process is begun to suspend that person’s license. Once a person’s license is suspended, the fine must be paid and then the person must pay a $25 reinstatement fee to have their license reinstated.

Amacker said she hopes the record month is an indication of things to come.

“We’re looking for another good month. From March 1 through March 7, we have collected over $28,000. Last month, we were at about the same amount at the same point in the month. We’re doing pretty good,” Amacker said.

Amacker said the total for February 2007 was $100,000, and May and August 2007 were the high points of that year at $103,000 each month. Other months, collections ranged from $66,000 to $96,000.

“In January of 2008, when I started as Justice Court Clerk, we collected $103,000 from January 7 through January 31. … We’re on track to have a third month in a row of over $100,000 in collections,” Amacker said.