Amendment would allow St. Clair County to raise defendants’ court costs

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 2:46 pm | Updated: 7:45 pm, Wed Feb 3, 2016.

A constitutional amendment that would allow the St. Clair County Commission to amend court costs by local legislation will be on the March 1 election ballot.

County attorney James Hill III said the proceeds could be used for expenses within the county.

“About two-thirds of all the counties in the state have that ability, and it is important that we do as well,” he said. “It truly is an opportunity for us to have the same benefits and options that other counties have right now.”

Hill said there is a piece of legislation that has been passed that would allow a $30 court cost to be collected from defendants who use the county jails.

“That $30 will be collected and held so those defendants can assist us when it is time to construct a county jail,” he said. “As we know in this county, our jails are aging, just like everyone else’s jails. At some point in the future, we are going to need to construct a new jail, and this will be a way that defendants who are utilizing those facilities can assist us in paying for those facilities. Without this constitutional amendment, we do not have the ability to do that. This particular issue is extremely important for the financial well-being of this county in the next five to 10 years in my opinion.”

Hill said the cost to construct a jail facility is significant.

Commissioner Jeff Brown said residents need to vote yes on this constitutional amendment.

Commissioner Tommy Bowers said what he likes the most about this is the people who are paying for it are the people they are helping the most, rather than taxpayers paying for it.

“It is serving their own purpose,” he said.

Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

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