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March 26, 2007

City going public with warrants list

If you have an outstanding warrant, now might be a good time to take care of it. Those names will soon be published in the newspaper.

By Lacie Morrison

lmorrison@mineralwellsindex.com

With more than a quarter-million dollars in uncollected fines, the Mineral Wells Police Department is opting to raise awareness again of who owes and how much by running a weekly “warrant list.”

Mineral Wells Police Chief Jerry White said the warrant list was run in the newspaper a number of years before with positive results.

“It was successful in the past but the volume of warrants was a job for the court clerk,” White said.

In the previous warrant list, hundreds of names of individuals with outstanding fines were printed at once. The newest approach, White said, will be a weekly list of 25 names, rather than the whole list at once. The names of juveniles with warrants will not be included in the published list.

“This approach is fewer number of warrants in the paper over a longer period of time,” he said.

According to Municipal Court Clerk Annette McAllester, there are 1,613 warrants currently outstanding. They total $321,677 worth in fees.

The amount is about the same as it was five years ago, she recalled, and the warrants that will be listed are older warrants that are three to four years old.

She explained that the current warrant officer, Sgt. Butch Henry, “has done a good job” of contacting individuals with warrants. When a warrant is initially issued, she said Henry is given 30 days to contact the individual before it goes to a collection agency for payment.

Even if they are able to collect on all of the outstanding warrants, the city won’t keep the full amount. McAllester explained that an $85 court cost fee goes to the state with the remainder going into the City of Mineral Wells’ general fund.

The city receives even less when the collection agency obtains the funds as they receive a percentage of the fine as their fee.

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