Macoupin County Courts Committee met July 9.
Here is the minutes provided by the committee:
I. CALL TO ORDER
PRESENT: Pomatto, Thomas, Dunnagan, Reiher, Rull, Schmidt, Duncan, Deihl, Ross, Watson
II. AGENDA ITEMS
1. New Fines and Fees Act—Updates
Circuit Clerk Ross spoke about the new fines and fees. It will start July 1 but she feels good with the work she and the State’s Attorney have done to make sure they are all ready. It will take a few months to see what type of effect it will have on collection of fines. Judge Deihl thanked Ross and State’s Attorney Watson for their work on making sure the county is ready to implement this new fee schedule. They all agreed that it is hard to know exactly what the effect will be on the fines and fees collected for the county. Ross said all of the software was in place for the county to be ready to do the new collections.
2. Illinois Fee Waivers (Civil and Criminal)—Updates
Deihl spoke about fee waivers. He said in the past there has a been a civil fee waiver for people who are receiving a government benefit such as disability, SNAP, etc, they were automatically eligible for a 100% fee waiver. The new law would have a decreasing scale of fee waivers based on how many people are living in the household and how much their income is above the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four would have a 100% waiver on civil case fees if they make $32,188 or less, which is 125% of the federal poverty level. If they make between $32,188 to $38,625, which is 126% to 150%, they receive a 75% waiver. This goes down to $45,604 to $51,500, which is 176% to 200% of the federal poverty level, they can receive a 25% waiver. They is another scale for criminal assessments that again is a sliding scale based on their income and how it falls on the federal poverty level. This will dramatically change how much money the county collects as many of. our residents would meet the requirements to get a waiver. There was some discussion about drafting a resolution or letter to the legislature to express their concern with the financial distress this could cause the county.
3Inmate Jail List
Deihl explained that at the request of the Courts committee last meeting was to get information on how many federal prisoners were in the jail vs. other inmates. He did so last meeting and gave them updated numbers tonight. There were currently 18 federal inmates, which is about 26% of the total inmates. The number is decreasing, just yesterday one left who had been there the longest. Deihl noted that only 4 inmates had been brought into the jail this calendar year.
The prisoners who had been there the longest would slowly be moving out of the jail as they either go home or are sent to prison after sentencing.
4. Courts & Probations’ FY 19-20 Budget—Action Item
Judge Deihl than passed out the budget requests handed out at the FInance Committee’s budget hearing for the Circuit Court. Deihl said that based on the new system of Court Appointed Attorney’s having a stipend for three part time contracted attorneys and having less hourly court appointed attorneys, there were less costs so far for hourly appointments. Because of the savings on the hourly rate, Deihl felt the Court budget could be reduced by $20,000. He said the Court has always given back when possible so he felt they could do so again at this time. He is always one or two cases away from that cost exploding due to high hourly hours for an appointed attorney, but the Board has always been kind in giving to the Court when necessary. Deihl also spoke about the Probation budget request. There had been a request for $12,000 for training that while important, was not a high priority based on the economic needs of the county. Deihl had spoken with Probation Director Briscoe, who couldn’t be present tonight as she was on a family vacation, and both agreed to withdraw that request.
Motion by Rull, seconded by Quarton to withdraw the Drug Court training budget request. All in favor. Motion carried
Motion by Schmidt, seconded by Reiher to reduce the Circuit Court - Court Appointed Attorney’s budget by $20,000. All in favor. Motion carried.