The City of New Houlka is notifying people who owe a court fine or fee that they need to pay up or they could face additional charges and additional fees and fines.
Houlka Police Chief Ray Laney has sent out several hundred letters to people across northeast Mississippi reminding them they owe the town a fine or court fees and asking them to contact the city and make arrangements for payment.
“We are getting some response from the letters and that is what we wanted,” Laney told the Houlka Board of Aldermen last week. “These people know they owe this money and that it needs to be paid.”
City Clerk Gay Williams said the city is owed around $23,000 and they have collected approximately 10 percent since the letters were mailed out about two months ago.
“We started with those who owe larger fines and are reminding them they need to pay it,” said Williams. “If they will just contact the number on the letter and make arrangements to pay and then do it, something can be worked out.”
Houlka Mayor Jimmy Kelly said the goal is not to harass people or put anybody in jail, just get them to pay what is owed.
“We are a small town and we don’t have a lot of money,” said Kelly. “Fines – like they do in any town – help us pay for city services.”
Laney, Williams and Kelly said Houlka police are not writing more tickets to generate revenue and they pointed out people who are being sent this letter have already been convicted, sentenced and fined.
“This is money the court says they owe,” said Kelly. “It goes in the general fund that pays the city’s bills.”
Anyone who has been convicted and fined and not paid their fine can have their judge sign a simple bench warrant citing them for contempt of court, demanding their arrest and have them brought back before the court to answer for not paying their fine. A conviction for contempt of court can see the judge levy an additional fine of up to $500 and up to 90-days in jail.
The Chickasaw County Jail has a program set up where inmates can be placed on a work detail to pay off their fine.
Anyone who has received a letter from the City of Houlka concerning a fine that is owed is urged to contact city hall at 568-2746.