DA's Office to collect Oxford’s unpaid court fines
by Eddie Burkhalter
Jun 11, 2013 | 4565 views |  0 comments | 287 287 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD – Oxford’s Municipal Court has a new tool to collect the approximately $100,000 in unpaid criminal court fines and fees, but costs for those fees will rise as a result.

The Council Tuesday voted to allow Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh and his three-person restitution recovery division to collect those unpaid fees.

According to the resolution, fees must be at least 90 days past due before McVeigh’s office can collect. Such fees would include failure-to-appear fines, unpaid traffic tickets, restitution payments not made and fines for theft.

An additional 30 percent will be added to each fine collected by McVeigh’s office, with his office receiving 75 percent of that extra money and the city getting the remainder.

Oxford’s municipal court’s $354 charge for failure to appear will increase to $460, and the court‘s $654 charge for theft will increase to $850.

Before Tuesday’s agreement, Municipal Court Clerk Linda Nettles was the sole person responsible for collecting unpaid court fees.

“It’s really a win-win situation for the city and the District Attorney’s Office,” said Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge.

In a separate vote Tuesday, the council agreed to refinance a 2004 bond, saving the city about $988,000 in reduced interest charges.

Under the terms of the refinancing, the interest rate on the remaining $10.7 million balance of the original $17 million bond will drop from 4.3 percent to 1.9 percent, said Andy Lanier with the Frazer Lanier Company, which sells municipal bonds to Oxford.

The savings will be placed into the city’s general fund, Lanier said.

That good news came just before Joan Sanders, of the accounting firm Joan Sanders and Associates, presented the council with her report on the city’s 2012 audit.

The city’s total general fund revenue for 2012 of $36.7 million remained almost unchanged from last year’s revenues of $36.5, but expenditures increased by $1.1 million from 2011 to $24.7 million.

That increase was due largely to a $168,000 increase in the cost of health insurance for city employees, in addition to about $250,000 in expenses related to construction delays at the Oxford Commons retail complex and $30,000 in election expenses, Sanders said.

The general fund balance decreased from 2011 by $9.7 million, ending at $108.1 million.

“Primarily, that difference is because of the transfer that you made to capital projects,” Sander said.

Construction of the Performing Arts Center, at a cost of around $10 million, and the $7.7 million renovation of the Civic Center made the largest difference in the general funds decrease from 2011, Sanders said.

The city’s gross bonded debt decreased by $2.4 million from 2011 to $83.3 million, while net assets increased by $3.7 million from 2011 to $129 million.

Business license revenue increased in 2012 by $135,324, totaling $3 million.

Also during the meeting, the council agreed to forgo charging non-educational property taxes for 10 years as the wood panel and laminate flooring plant Kronospan announced plans to expand their Bynum plant.

The $18 million expansion will add a portion of the company’s wood adhesive and resin manufacturing arm, KronoChem to the Bynum facility.

The expansion will add about 15 jobs, said KhronoChem’s chief financial officer, Tim Pack. Kronospan currently employees about 110, Pack said.

By adding adhesive manufacturing to the plant, Kronospan will save money by producing materials the company currently buys elsewhere and ships to Bynum.

“The resin plant will pay for itself in three or four years,” Pack said.

In other business, the council:

Appointed Danny Shears to a 4-year term to the Oxford Commercial Development Authority.

Appointed six people to the Oxford Beautification Board. Those appointed were Bill Bunn, Jeremy Cruse, Robin Leonard, Ron Harris, Nancy Burnell and Cindy Lynch.

Agreed for the city to take part in the state sales tax holiday, to take place Aug. 2.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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