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Tuesday
December 07th, 2021

city of liberal logoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Liberal City Commission will be taking it easy on itself with only two items of new business on its agenda for its next meeting this evening starting at 5:30. 

Up first for the commission will be discussion of Municipal Court collection fees. 

“Cities are authorized to enter into contracts for collection services for debts owed to municipal courts or restitution owed under an order of restitution. On and after July 1, 2007, the cost of collection shall be paid by the defendant as an additional court cost in all cases where the defendant fails to pay any amount ordered by the court and the court utilizes the services of a contracting agent pursuant to this section,” the Kansas statute in the agenda information noted. “The cost of collection shall be deemed an administrative fee to pay the actual costs of collection made necessary by the defendant's failure to pay court debt and restitution.”

The statute also includes the definitions of several terms.

“’Beneficiary under an order of restitution’ means the victim or victims of a crime to whom a municipal court has ordered restitution be paid, and ‘contracting agent’ means a person, firm, agency or other entity who contracts hereunder to provide collection services,” the statute noted. “’Cost of collection’ means the fee specified in contracts hereunder to be paid to or retained by a contracting agent for collection services and shall not exceed 33 percent of the amount collected. The cost of collection shall be paid from the amount collected, but shall not be deducted from the debts owed to municipal courts or restitution. Cost of collection also includes any filing fee required under K.S.A. 60-4303, and amendments thereto; and ‘debts owed to municipal courts’ means any assessment of court costs, fines, fees, moneys expended by the city in providing counsel and other defense services to indigent defendants or other charges which a municipal court judge has ordered to be paid to the court, and which remain unpaid in whole or in part, and includes any interest or penalties on such unpaid amounts as provided for in the judgment or by law. ‘Debts owed to municipal courts’ also includes the cost of collection when collection services of a contracting agent hereunder are utilized.”

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The statute goes on about some other matters. 

“Municipal courts are authorized to utilize the collection services of contracting agents pursuant to this section for the purpose of collecting all outstanding debts owed the municipal courts,” the statute noted. “Any beneficiary under an order of restitution entered by a municipal court is authorized to utilize the collection services of contracting agents pursuant to this section for the purpose of collecting all outstanding amounts owed under such order of restitution. Contracts shall provide for the payment of any amounts collected to the clerk of the municipal court for the court in which the debt being collected originated, after first deducting the collection fee. In accounting for amounts collected from any person, the municipal court clerk shall credit the person's amount owed the amount of the net proceeds collected. The clerk shall not reduce the amount owed by any person that portion of any payment which constitutes the cost of collection pursuant to this section.”

The statute then goes on to talk about the collection process itself. 

“When collection services are utilized pursuant to this statute’s subsection (c), all amounts shall be applied against the debts owed to the court as specified in the original judgment creating the debt,” the statute noted. “When collection services are utilized pursuant to this statute’s subsection (d), all amounts shall be paid to the beneficiary under the order of restitution designated to receive such restitution, except where that beneficiary has received recovery from the Kansas crime victims compensation board and such board has subrogation rights pursuant to K.S.A. 74-7312, and amendments thereto, in which case all amounts shall be paid to the board until its subrogation lien is satisfied. Whenever collection services are being utilized against the same debtor pursuant to both the aforementioned subsections (c) and (d), any amounts collected by a contracting agent shall be first applied to satisfy debts pursuant to an order of restitution. Upon satisfaction of all such debts, amounts received from the same debtor shall then be applied to satisfy, debts owed to courts.”

In regard to all of this, the commission will be asked to approve Ordinance No. 4570, which concerns adding a Section 9-109 and Section C-903 to the Liberal City Code pertaining to assessing the costs of collection for debts owed to the Liberal Municipal Court. 

“Section 9-109 will read ‘Collection fees incurred through the use of a collection agency for the collection of debts owed to Municipal Court and restitution shall be paid as additional court costs when the defendant fails to pay the same; the cost of collection assessed against the defendant shall not exceed the maximum amount as allowed by law,” the agenda information noted. “C-903 will read ‘The cost of collection of debts owed to Municipal Court is assessed against the Defendant as an additional court cost; the cost of collection shall not exceed the maximum amount as allowed by law.”

Also in the agenda’s new business for the commission will be discussion of the Recreation Center. 

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