Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Many Dollars are Lost at Municipal Court?

A couple months ago, I met a Republican friend for lunch and conversation at a downtown restaurant. Conversation ran a little long, and, when I got back to my car, my meter had expired and I had a $28.50 parking ticket waiting for me. My mistake, no complaint.

Then, to make things worse, I neglected to pay my ticket on time, so I received notice that I owed an additional $10. Fair enough.

So, finally, I got online to pay my debt to society. Much to my surprise, I typed in all the required information and was only charged the original $28.50. Being a law-abiding citizen (and one who doesn't want to get hauled into jail for $10 after a traffic stop) I even went back and looked for a way to pay the extra $10. No way! The website insisted I was even-steven, and offered no way of questioning its satisfaction. I even tried to call the Court to make certain we were okay with each other, but gave up after racking up 23 minutes of being kept on hold.

Is this the way a city in budget crisis acts?
Waiving late fees without even being asked to do so?

Frankly, I think the original parking ticket ought to be $50. If I want to play parking ticket roulette with the traffic cops, they ought to make me put a little more skin in the game. Then, I think the late charge ought to be another $25. Call it a voluntary tax for procrastination.

But, either way, how many thousands of dollars are being lost because the municipal court is not diligent in collecting fees from scofflaws like me? Whose responsibility is this, and how long has this been going on?

Labels: ,


Blogger Capt. Geoffrey Spaulding said...


If you are ANYTHING you appear to be an honest fellow.

I'll take that $10 the City won't BTW....


2/19/2009 8:59 AM  
Blogger les said...

Y'know, if it's tormenting you, you can always just send a ten spot to the City; it's even good for a charitable deduction--so you should probably send $13, to achieve the appropriate punishment. Only a Catholic...

2/19/2009 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Voluntary remittances are described as gifts, donations or contributions but taxes are coercive by definition.

The $10 problem you encountered is the tip of the iceberg. I'm glad you noticed. KC has the biggest municipal court in the State and it could generate much more money for the city but the people who work in that building aren't really in charge.

I have prevented many of my clients' dollars from being paid to the city due to procedural inadequacies alone. If things got better in KC muni my job would be a little more difficult but we would probably be better off as a society. I feel bad for Murano and Schneider who have to make the best of a bad situation.

2/19/2009 10:07 AM  
Blogger m.v. said...

you have a republican friend :-)

2/19/2009 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich (at least upper middle class) Brookside attorney believes traffic fines should be doubled to pay down city debt (no matter what the regressive nature of traffic fines is) Story at 11.

2/19/2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll go you one better. I went to the courthouse with tickets in hand to pay two parking tickets (late). Only one had been entered into the system after several months, so they would only take money for the one.

2/19/2009 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow; a parking ticket (for a meter violation) in the City of St. Louis is only $10.00.

STL Ticket Info

Clayton (St. Louis County) is only $5.00 - and if you pay it within 1/2 hour, it's only $1.00.

Clayton Info

2/19/2009 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, firsof all, the meters only allow you two hours...if you get held up on business, tough shit.

Further, the meters are NOT reliable and jam.

Too bad for you. Prove it.

And 50 bucks for a tickett? Hahahahaaaaaaaaa!!!

And you wonder why people hate to go downtown.

Thats a sure way to kill it off.

What I have noticed, as an officer of the court, that the Courts are REMARKABLY inaccessible to the pubic, and extremely hard to get in and out of.

As for people with any disabilities...screw them.

Municipal Court is corrupt enough, sport?

2/19/2009 11:50 PM  
Blogger New Hoboken said...

My parallel amazement, living as I do in the midst of buildings who are so far from "up to code" or operating within zoning, that they should all be fined on a daily basis until the city can take the properties and sell them to someone who might want to actually use them. Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars the city turns its nose up at, and that is just on one side of one city block.

Meanwhile, they threaten to spend 50-100K to tear down two of said buildings, which would just about cost that much to repair (and again, sell to someone who might want to have their business in midtown... Know anyone like that? I do.)

So, the city can't figure out how to fine criminal property owners, and can't find funds to pick up trash, but they can find a hundred thousand dollars to destroy historic buildings, which on a separate note will allow the speculator owners to decrease their county tax burden. Who needs schools and libraries? Apparently not Kansas City.

Me moving to St. Louis.


2/25/2009 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:03 a.m. To whom are you referring as a Brookside attorney?

2/28/2009 10:28 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I think that was a reference to me. Which is fine - ignorance is just fine with me.

2/28/2009 10:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home