D'Iberville offers incentives to help collect old court fines

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - D'Iberville is preparing to crack down on people who have not paid their court ordered fines. Officials say the city is owed more than $2 million in old fines, which is money that could do a lot of good in the city. D'Iberville is offering an incentive for people to pay up, but it's a limited time offer.

As crews build a new wing to D'Iberville City Hall, the city is looking at ways to build up its coffers. For the month of January, officials say the city is giving some people who owe past due court fines a 25 percent discount.

"With this little inducement, we're hoping individuals will come down and let us take a look at the fines that are owed the city," City Manager Michael Janus said. "Hopefully, we can give them a little break and encourage them to pay their back due fines."

City officials say D'Iberville is owed millions of dollars because several thousand people fined for infractions ranging from speeding to aggravated assault have not paid.

"Two million dollars to a small city like D'Iberville is very substantial," Janus said. "Our budget is about $13 million a year. So if we we're lucky to even collect half of that $2 million in back due fines, certainly we could do a lot with that."

"It would be my thought to use it to beef up our police and fire departments, our court departments. Certainly a lot of needs in park and recreation. Just put the money in the general fund. Perhaps down the road we could look at some tax cuts," Janus said.

D'Iberville officials say people who choose not to pay in January will probably have to pay more than the original fine later. Officials say ignoring this bill might even cost people their freedom.

"Come February 1st, unfortunately, if they don't take care of these back due fines, we have a collection agency," Janus said. "We'll be allowed to go after these individuals. Of course, at the end of the day, these people are in contempt of court because a judge has assessed this fine. They have not paid it. So in a very real sense, people could ultimately go to jail if they don't pay their fines."

Not all fines are subject to 25 percent discount. However, D'Iberville city officials say people can make payment plan arrangements if they go by city hall Monday through Wednesday or on Fridays.

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