Livingston County officials have decided to contract a collections firm to address over $30 million in fines and fees owed to the 44th Circuit Court.

In a memo to the Board of Commissioners, County Clerk Betsy Hundley indicates the Circuit Court Clerk’s office has in excess of $30 million in accounts receivable, $20 million of which is restitution owed to crime victims. Commission chair Don Parker says the overdue fees do affect court operations because it’s money outstanding. He believes it’s not an issue of the clerk’s office not being aware or forgetting to collect, but rather a systematic problem. Hundley’s memo lists a lack of resources as one of the contributing factors, noting the office has only one collection clerk who is unable to handle all of the past due accounts receivables.

Parker says looking at other county’s best practices, it was determined that the best way to remedy the situation was to bring in a third party. On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a contract with the Court Compliance Corporation for the collection of those overdue fees. The one-year contract includes the option to extend an additional four one-year terms. Parker feels bringing on an agency with a consistent and clear focus has “a lot of potential” and hopes it will “yield some fruit”. He commended the clerk's office for bringing the issue forward and being proactive about finding a solution.

It is conservatively anticipated that the firm will help bring in an estimated $750,000 per year in additional collections without the need for more staff. Of that, $350,000 is expected to be paid out to victims that are owed restitution and the remaining $450,000 will be allocated for the state and county. (DK)