Local Unpaid Fines Adding Up

Unpaid court costs, fees, and fines are ever-changing figures for local law enforcement agencies, but some community leaders are making an effort to make sure that money doesn't go uncollected.

The numbers rise and fall daily, but this week, Fannin County has more than 2,000 outstanding warrants on record and the Sherman Police Department says $250,000 in traffic fines have yet to come in from last year. The Texas Office of Court Administration estimates 35 to 44% of criminal court costs go uncollected each year, which comes to an average loss of $442,000,000 a year for the state.

The problem was so bad in the city of Gainesville, the police department added an extra officer, just to serve warrants. The City Marshal is like a collection agent and seeks out those with outstanding warrants through home visits, letters, even door hangers. Since he has come on board, the number of outstanding warrants has been cut almost in half.

The city of Sherman hopes hiring more officers will help them accomplish the same goal.

Officials say the cost is passed onto the taxpayers when a person is put in jail for not paying on an outstanding warrant.

Last year, the state of Texas passed a senate bill requiring cities and counties with larger populations to implement collection improvement programs. Grayson County is on that list.