FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2015
New ‘Time to Pay’ Plan helps residents manage Municipal Court fines
On Wednesday, June 10, the Kansas City Municipal Court judges approved a new ‘Time to Pay’ plan which will allow for installment payments for those who owe Municipal Court fines. Under the new plan, a person facing Municipal Court fines would be able to enter a written contract with the court, pay 10 percent of the fines owed within 15 days of adjudication and then make regular monthly installment payments for a set period of time on the balance.
The plan goes into effect on June 19, and will apply to new and current fines owed. The plan also allows fines from multiple cases to be combined into a single payment contract. The length of the payment contract will vary from 30 days to 12 months depending on the total amount owed. For example, a person who owes a total of $500.00 in fines will be able to sign a contract to pay $50.00 within 15 days and then make payments of $150.00 per month for 3 months to satisfy the balance. Each payee will receive a packet with their contract, payment information and envelopes to mail the payments to the court eliminating the need for additional trips to the courthouse.
Prior to Time to Pay, Municipal Court fines in cases that could be resolved without standing before the judge, like speeding tickets, were due prior to their scheduled court date. In cases that required a court appearance, fines the judge ordered were due in a time specified by the judge. Now both types of cases can be placed on the new time to pay plan.
The new plan also complies with changes in changes to Missouri Supreme Court Rules beginning July 1 that no longer allow Municipal Court to immediately issue contempt warrants when someone fails to pay their fines. The court will have to hold a show cause hearing first where the judge determines the defendant’s ability to pay.
“Our new plan, while complying with the new Supreme Court Rule, sets a consistent standard throughout our Court,” said Municipal Court Presiding Judge Anne LaBella. “It also gives Defendants certainty about what they can expect to pay when they face fine penalties in our court. While holding offenders accountable, this plan also offers some relief if an individual’s situation requires an exception. Instead of having a warrant issued immediately for non-payment, offenders will have the opportunity to explain their situation to the judge at a Show Cause Hearing.”
Municipal Court Administrator Megan Pfannenstiel said the new time to pay plan has built-in processes which comply with the new rules. Under the new time to pay plan, if the person fails to make payments, they first receive a letter giving them 10 days to become current or risk further court action. If non-payment continues, the court will issue a summons for them to appear at the show cause hearing. If they fail to appear, the court then will issue a bench warrant. The new plan also is an example of one of the ways the Municipal Court has built on the paperless case management system it adopted in 2011. The court will be able to automatically calculate payment schedules, correctly code contracts by the length of time to pay and efficiently generate the mailings for the time to pay system.
“This process will help streamline work for the finance team as well as the courtroom and still be compliant with the new Missouri court rules,” Pfannenstiel said.
To apply for the time to pay plan, go to the Violations Bureau on the first floor of the Municipal Court at 1101 Locust Street. If you have an outstanding payable ticket or failure to pay warrant, you can enter the plan prior to your next scheduled court date. If you are required to appear in court on your case and the judge then orders you to pay a fine, you will have an opportunity to go to the Violations Bureau following your hearing to sign up for time to pay.
For more information, contact Benita Jones, public information officer for the Municipal Court, at 816-513-6711 or Benita.Jones@kcmo.org.