Posted: 5:21 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015
Middletown hopes to collect more
than $1 million in fines
By Rick McCrabb
BUTLER COUNTY —
Municipal Court is making a last-ditch effort to collect more than $1 million in
delinquent fines, fees and costs before turning them over to the Ohio Attorney
General, officials said.
Clerk Steve Longworth said about 2,200 letters are being mailed this week
notifying residents about their unpaid court fines that accumulated for the
last 18 months, from January 2014 through June 2015. The letters gave a
deadline of Dec. 15, 2015 to pay the fines or contact the court, he said.
said on average the fines are about $500 per person, though one person owes
more than $7,000.
said under a recent change in state law, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office can
collect debt on behalf of local governments under a Local Government Collection
Services program. He said those fines that are unpaid will be turned over to
the AG’s office, and a 10 percent collection fee will be added to the original
Ohio Attorney General’s Office is successful, Longworth said, because it has “a
good system in place” that gives it the ability to automatically withhold a
delinquent person’s state tax refunds or Ohio
said fines can be paid on-line or in the City Building
before the deadline. If someone is unable to pay the total amount of their
fines, Longworth said, the court will work with that individual. He said Middletown
Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall is “very willing” to assist those in the
community who are working to pay their outstanding fines.
the debt impacts all residents because the money is distributed to the city, Butler and Warren counties, the state, Lemon Twp. and Trenton, Longworth said.
The city collected $3.5 million in 2014, and of that, $2.3 million resulted
from criminal cases and $1.2 million from civil cases, according to the audit’s
year, the city of Middletown received $1.6
million, the State of Ohio ($508,000), Butler County
($193,000), Lemon Twp. ($11,000), Warren
County ($850) and city of Trenton ($145), the
Middletown will be the second
local agency to use the Ohio Attorney General’s Office as a collection agency.
Butler County Court Clerk Mary Swain said her agency started using the office
to assist in collecting court costs associated with civil cases. She said from
Jan. 26, 2014 to present, the agency has collected nearly $14,000 for the
county, money that may otherwise never been collected. She said delinquents
typically respond quicker to a letter from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s
the state office is contacted, Swain said, the county sends three notices to
residents who owe the court money.
2,000 defendants owe the court about $1.2 million in delinquent fines and costs
for the last 18 months, said Susan Mense, secretary for the Hamilton Municipal
Court. She said the city doesn’t use a collection agency.