City mounts push to collect mayor's court fines
Canal Winchester is going after people who haven't paid their mayor's court fines.
City Finance Director Amanda Jackson announced the effort at council's Sept. 3 finance committee meeting. She said the city has been working to be proactive about collecting fines that are in arrears.
According to the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office -- which provides policing service to Canal Winchester -- targeted patrols and the increased use of unmarked cars, along with bringing on additional staff for special events and targeted times, such as over spring and summer break, have resulted in higher numbers of fines and arrests.
Now, according to Jackson, the city wants to make sure that those who have been cited are appropriately processed through Canal Winchester Mayor's Court, and the fines are collected.
"We're working with (our law director) to fine-tune things with mayor's court, and thanks to the job of the sheriff's deputies, we've done a better job of revenue generation, with further work following up on getting people to pay fines," Jackson said.
Sheriff's deputies conducted a roundup Sept. 4 of people who had been cited into mayor's court or who owed unpaid fines, although Jackson said it wasn't as successful as she had hoped.
She said the city had a list of 98 individuals with outstanding warrants, but after checking those names against the Law Enforcement Automated Data System, the sheriff's department found only 50 that could be considered viable as roundup candidates.
"All the individuals that were on the warrant list the deputies worked from had been previously notified by mail of the warrant being issued," Jackson said.
"These included individuals that were required to come to court and had not made any appearance at all, individuals who had been in court and were told to return but didn't, as well as individuals who simply failed to pay their fines."
The warrant roundup resulted in eight people appearing in mayor's court Sept. 5. Of those, two spent the evening in jail prior to court, two posted bond and two made prior arrangements to appear, according to Jackson.
The final two are currently incarcerated on charges in other jurisdictions, and were transported in for the local court appearance, she said.
"This was definitely a learning experience and I do believe it's something we'll do again in the future," Jackson said. "It's just a start to us looking more closely at our mayor's court and what we can do to ensure individuals come to court and the revenue from their fines is collected."
According to the mayor's courts summary for 2012 issued Aug. 23 by the Ohio Supreme Court, Canal Winchester, with a population of 7,101, had 561 mayor's court cases last year.