Opportunities for fine payment help city, residents
Avers: ‘serving the community, not community service’
In the city of Seligman, officials have found a solution to the issue of unpaid fines — community service.
Brian Nichols, Seligman city clerk, said the city will allow people to pay off fines in the form of community service, which includes picking up trash, cleaning the community center and other weekend projects.
“Every hour of community service is $10 toward the fine,” he said. “The city recently developed a liability waiver to protect the city, so people who wish to take advantage of the opportunity but have a medical condition would have to have a medical release and sign the waiver so the city knows what the doctor’s limitations for the patients are.”
The city wants people to take advantage of this opportunity because it is a benefit to the city, as well as to the resident.
“We want those debts off the books,” he said. “They require manpower and other costs to continue to send out notifications on the issue.
“We understand that sometimes money is tight, and we were asked if this was a possibility a lot. Unfortunately, people still are not taking advantage of it.”
The city of Seligman has offered this program for going on five years.
“For as many cases as we have, we only see about two people a month use community service in lieu of payments,” Nichols said. “People can completely pay off a fine with community service, except for the court fee, which is around $30.”
According to Nichols, the court cost has to be paid because that money goes to the state, rather than the city.
“All [goes to the state] except $2, which goes into police training, and $1, which goes into court training,” he said. “We allow people to spend their community service in the city with city personnel, or at Haven of the Ozarks.
“It is available to all that are willing to put in the time to work off their debt.”
The city would like to see more people take advantage of the opportunity.
Michael Avers, Seligman mayor, said it is about giving back.
“I see it as serving the community, not community service,” he said. “It is something that serves both the city and the people.
“In my experience, people get things out of it — it is a good feeling. It helped me, and I enjoy talking to the residents and finding out if there is more that can be done to help them.”