Orange County to target thousands of unpaid court fees and fines

Orange County Commissioners think they may have found a solution to help fix the county's current $3.1 million budget deficit.

"We're upping the ante a little bit... we're going out and finding those fines and fees that have not been paid in many many years," Orange County Precinct 4 Commssioner Jody Crump told 12News Wednesday.

Monday the Commissioner's Court voted unanimously to enter a contract with American Municipal Services (AMS), a collection agency based in Carrollton, Texas.

Crump says he contacted AMS after hearing good things about the agency from officials in Bridge City, where AMS has done collection work in the past.
Under the contract, AMS will help locate the thousands of people who owe Orange County outstanding court fees and fines, a tall task that Crump says the county doesn't have the time or manpower to do itself.

"It's just very diffiult to track some of these people down, a lot of hot check warrants, a lot of people moving in and out and about."

Crump says the contract is a win-win for the parties involved. AMS will charge defendants a small surcharge on top of the fees they owe the county. The county will not have to pay the collection agency for their services, and could see revenue returns in the millions that will help fix the budget shortfall, Crump says.

"If they're successful, or half as successful as I think it can be, it's a huge positive for Orange County," said Crump.

Crump says if AMS locates a person who owes the county money, and that person does not cooperate, AMS will notify the Orange County Sheriff's Office to take further action.



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