ELYRIA — Collection of court fees, fines and restitution payments are up substantially from last year, and court officials are crediting two new initiatives.
About $7.21 million has been collected in overall fees, fines and restitutions by the Lorain County clerk of courts this year, according to Pam Parsons, the chief bookkeeper with the clerk’s office. That’s an 11.4 percent increase over the $6.47 million collected last year.
The first initiative involves LexisNexis. Since April, defendants have been able to pay penalties online at www.loraincounty.com/clerk through LexisNexis VitalChek.
LexisNexis receives a 3 percent “convenience fee” on the amounts paid, and the contract with the county doesn’t cost taxpayers anything, according to Ron Nabakowski, Lorain County Court clerk.
The second initiative is through the state attorney general’s office. The office now has the authority to intercept tax refunds or lottery proceeds to pay court costs of people with delinquent accounts of more than $100.
About $20,000 has been collected by the office since April, according to Kathryn Lenz, an attorney with the clerk of courts.
Parsons and Nabakowski said the threat of interceptions by the Attorney General’s office has made delinquent defendants pay. Parsons said crime victims also are benefiting, citing the example of an elderly woman who recently started receiving restitution from a man who hadn’t paid in six years.
“She is really excited about this,” Parsons said.
Nabakowski said the initiatives help because his office is understaffed. The clerk of courts has about 21 employees, including Nabakowski, and an annual budget of about $1.1 million.
“We have over 1,000 different mandates by the (state) Legislature. The clerk of courts’ office is where they put anything they can’t figure out any other place to put it. They put it on us,” he said. “So we’re looking for every way we can to save time and money and make some more money for the general public.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.