GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. - Unpaid court costs and fines are costing Greene County big bucks.
"Millions of dollars are owed to Greene County," said Ted Hensley, a county commissioner.
Hensley told us creating a new position for a collections clerk could bring that money back to the county.
"In this time of need, it just seems like those who actually owe money should be paying what they owe," he said.
The collections clerk would focus solely on getting back fines for both the state and the county. Greene County's attorney, Roger Woolsey, told us a state statute would be enacted so the county would get a portion of what they collect for the state.
Hensley proposed the idea at Monday's commission meeting and received mixed reviews.
"A lot of positive response," he said. "I don't know that a lot of the commissioners realize so much money was actually owed, and I don't have a total account of that, but I did have some folks a little upset I stepped on their toes."
Hensley withdrew the proposal until July so that he could do more research on the department the clerk would be a part of and whether or not it would be a full time position.
We talked to the Greene County clerk today who said they have so many unpaid fines that it's hard to give a number for the amount owed. We're told they have been working to get a collections clerk for a while now.
Washington County, Tenn. clerk Karen Guinn told us they've had internal collections since 2007.
"I think the collection thing has been great," said Guinn. "It helps the taxpayers and there's a lot of fines and costs not paid for."
Over the last seven years they've collected more than $2 million, and it's considered surplus for the county, according to Guinn.
She explained her office sends out reminders to people to pay their court fees and if someone repeatedly misses their follow up meetings with the judge, they can be arrested.
Guinn told us sometimes delinquents are hard to locate. "If we could find all of these people it wouldn't take us as long," she said.
Once Guinn's office does get in touch, they create a payment plan that works to ensure the money gets back to the county.