H. Fuller Cridlin on Delinquent Fines and Cost Collection Program

In today’s local news is an update from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for Lee County, H. Fuller Cridlin on the matter of Delinquent Fines and Cost Collection Program;
Managing the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office budget is an important but often overlooked component of my job.
After taking office in January 2016, I immediately looked for ways that the office could be more efficient and responsible with its funding. In March 2016, I appeared before the Lee County Board of Supervisors to propose an idea that I Believed would generate new revenue to Lee County. Before my election, delinquent court costs and fines (meaning court costs and fines that were not being paid by people ordered to pay them after being convicted of a crime) in Lee County were collected by the Department of Taxation. As the collector of these fines and costs, the Department of Taxation was entitled to keep a percentage of what was collected as their fee. In Fiscal Year 2016, which began in the year before I took office, that fee was $31,455 and the county received none of these funds.
Because the collection of delinquent fines and court costs is technically a criminal proceeding, my office has the statutory authority to collect them. Importantly, the code also allows the county to keep a percentage of the proceeds as a collection fee if my office does the work. Previously, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office deferred the collections to the Department of Taxation (also allowed by code), but I felt that my office could handle the extra work load to generate additional funds to the county.
The Board approved my proposal. So beginning in Fiscal year 2017, my office began collecting all delinquent fines and costs assessed by the Lee County Circuit and Combined Courts. My office generated a collection fee of $48,256. The county got to keep a percentage of this collection fee which amounted to $23,432. The Commonwealth of Virginia got to keep the rest. In Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019, the program generated $28,652 and $24,579 respectively, in revenue to the county. In total this program has generated $76,663 in new revenue to the county.
Because of the success of this program, I have not had to request any county funds (other than those mandated by the Compensation Board) for my office in four years despite state wide cuts. In the next four years, I hope to build on the success of this program and continue to look for common sense solutions to improve and responsibly manage the office’s budget.

 

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