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Collection of outstanding court fines to begin in earnest

By:  Paula Walter

Assistant Editor

The Johnson County Circuit Court will soon begin collection efforts in order to recover some of the outstanding monies from court fines that are due to the court.
“There’s never been a collection effort that I’m aware of,” said Johnson County Circuit Court Clerk, Melissa Hollaway.
Hollaway received the nod from the county commissioners to begin collection proceedings for the county for those who have unpaid court fines and costs.  When fines are imposed, part of the money goes to the local county court,  the state, to the arresting agencies and for restitution if applicable.  ““It is believed that court fines owed just to the county are well over $1million,”  Hollaway stated. “There is no statute of limitations on money that is owed for various court costs.  There’s not enough manpower to be able to follow up on monies owed.”
According to Hollaway, Tennessee state law says if fines are not paid within one year of the court disposition date, the person who owes the fines can have their license suspended.  The circuit court clerk’s office informs the Tennessee Department of Safety of any payments in arrears.
Once an account has been turned over to the Tennessee Department of Safety, the department can be petitioned as  to why payments are late.  A payment plan can be set up with an amount that can be paid.  They will then go before the judge for a determination whether to grant an order reinstating the driver’s license or not.
Hollaway will begin to turn over monies to Capital Recovery Systems, a debt collection service company,  beginning March 1, 2017.
“Our county struggles yearly with balancing the budget,” Hollaway stated.  “The clerk’s office is not a collection agency.”
According to Hollaway, she worked closely with Johnson County attorney Perry Stout in making the decision which collection service to use.
“He has been very helpful in making sure our ‘i’s’ are dotted and our ‘t’s’ are crossed,“ she stated.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.melissa-holloway