Gregg County Commissioner Sites Waste - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/13/07-Longview

Gregg County Commissioner Sites Waste

       A county commissioner is criticizing a new program designed to collect past due traffic fines, calling it bureaucracy.    Records show Gregg county is owed more than 600-thousand dollars in traffic fines dating back to 2005-2006. And new personnel have been hired to deal with it.

   "What we've done is create a new department that's going to cost the taxpayers over 125-thousand dollars a year its permanent for a job that someone else is already being paid to do" says precinct 2 commissioner Darryl Primo.

     With a state mandate giving 90-thousand dollars a year , the commissioners court approved creation of a salaried three member group to tackle the fines, but Primo says it's unnecessary.

 "This gives us the worst of both worlds it builds a bureaucracy here in Gregg county and offer very little accountability to taxpayers" Primo says.

      But the buck stops at the county judge.

   "We decided it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers and revenue if we put in place this collections department that was mandated, it's an option to use the mandate if you choose not to follow the mandate then you will lose the 90-thousand dollars" said Gregg county judge Bill Stoudt.

     But there's a twist, if the group can't collect the funds in 60 days they give it to a collection agency.

   "The outside collection will add 30 percent to whatever is owed, we would have tried to use mechanisms that are already in place at the county used to collect this money" Primo says.

     "It costs the county nothing to contract this outside source after 60 days" says stoudt. Some taxpayers aren't thrilled.

   "Well I'm not sure I that I like the idea of my tax dollars being spent on something that may not be successful at collecting the fines" said Longview taxpayer Kathy Page.  

   "On the surface it might sound that way but the reality is this is the reality it will be a revenue generator, we should be able to collect much more than what it takes to operate this department. I'm confident this is going to work" says Stoudt.

   Judge Stoudt says commissioners will evaluate the collections over the next few months to see if the program will be continued. Bob Hallmark/bhallmark@kltv.com.

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