Lepanto City Council hears about court fines

Thursday, June 20, 2002

For the second month in a row, the monthly meeting of the Lepanto City

Council quickly turned into a discussion about the city's court system and a perceived lack of enforcing and receiving fines and court costs in a timely manner. In a spirited debate, council members openly asked questions about the town's District Court system. Council member David Tyler told the council that among some of his findings of the system were that there have been 69 new time payment plans initiated in the last eight months, going back to July 1 of last year. Councilman Tyler told the Tribune after the meeting that there is currently $40,000 in outstanding fines that have not been collected, as part of the time-pay program. Tyler also said that the problem has lasted for several years. Council member Terry Kemp also asked about a perceived lack of serving warrants on individuals who are delinquent in paying their fines. Council members discussed several possible solutions to the situation. Cited were cutting the pay of the judge, Jim Dunlap and threatening to suspend Police Chief Raymond Oakes for two weeks, if there was no improvement. City Attorney Noyl Houston told the council that the

first option, cutting the pay of the judge was out of question, due to a state law that says that a town or city cannot cut or reduce the salary of an elected official during their term in office. Mayor Dale Dunlap told the council that results, so far have not been good and that he would meet with Police Chief Oakes on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

In other action, the council:

* heard from Robert Fox, owner of the Riverside Ambulance Service. Fox gave a presentation to the council, discussing a financial solution between the city and the ambulance service. A special meeting of the Lepanto City Council will be held Thursday night at 7 p.m. to discuss the situation in full.

* Tabled a discussion on the extension of the lease for the Lepanto American Legion Hut. Members of the Legion were at the meeting, asking that the city deed Lots 3 and 4 to the American Legion. City Attorney Noyl Houston told the members that the city cannot give the property away and that a market value amount must be paid for the property. A decision could be known next month.

* Voted 8-0 to approve the Water Department budget, for 2002-03 for the city of Lepanto.

* Voted 8-0 to approve the minutes and financial report for the city of

Lepanto for the month of May 2002.

* Heard from council members on several topics, including receiving water service for Potter Memorial Cemetery, fireworks in town, the city's curfew, cleaning up properties in Lepanto and doing work on several trees in the town.

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