BOISE -- Thousands of people in Ada County are behind on paying court-ordered fines, from traffic tickets to fines for assault and battery. In Ada County, close to $2 million is past due right now.
When people don't pay their court fines or fees, more than 20 programs, including police training, district court offices, and domestic violence services lose out on their money.
KTVB obtained nearly 15,000 records from the Ada County Clerk's Office to see who owes and what for. Then KTVB asked what the county does to try to recover the money.
As of the end of February, $1.77 million was past due (meaning sent to collections). That amount of money is collectively owed by 5,286 people, so the average is $335.25 per person.
A great number of these things are criminal manners and the people don't have the resources, they don't have a job, they are moving all the time, Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich said.
The $1.77 million past due is owed for all kinds of matters: The most are from driving without privileges, driving under the influence, then drivers license and insurance issues. Other categories include everything from illegally camping in public,to failure to clean up dog waste.
A Nampa woman owes the most money at just over $7,000 for inattentive or careless driving, and there's a man in Meridian who owes the least, with $2 sitting in collections for illegally passing on the right.
In an effort to recover these amounts, big and small, Rich's office contracts with the collections agency. The county hands the cases over to the agency after 60 days. The county programs still get the total amount ordered, but after 30 days with the agency, it will add on its own fees to make money.
Folks really have, from time of judgment, 90 days to pay. After that, the collection agency is going to go after them and put a fee on top of what they owe, Rich said.
Additionally, Rich explained his office is also allowed to take tax return money from delinquent offenders.
It's been a very effective means to get delinquent money. At times it's been outstanding 8, 9, 10 years we've seen come in, Rich said. We had an initial hit when the program started a few years ago where a substantial amount of money came in, and now we're getting about $750,000 a year through tax intercept. Right now, year to date, we're about $500,000 and we'll get another quarter of a million coming in.
Even with collection efforts and interception, Rich says there's always someone left who owes and may never get in line.
Even with tax intercept, you have to have a tax refund coming for that to be effective, so for quite a bit, the receivable is going to be sitting out there for years, and maybe forever. Just be uncollectable, Rich said.
The numbers we looked at were all for court fines, so it doesn't include things like city parking tickets or restitution for victims. Those are handled by different offices; restitution for example, is handled by the prosecutor.
To see if you may have a court fine in Idaho, you can check your court record for free.
In Idaho, you can pay court fees and fines online here.