Franklin County Commission

Collections for Franklin County’s new municipal court are on track to beat budget projections.

From January through April, the court has collected $147,991.

The budget approved by the Franklin County Commission in January projected that the court would collect $250,000 in fines and court costs for the year.

The court has already collected well over half of that amount for the first four months of the year, according to the latest financial report from Municipal Court Judge Walter Murray Jr.

While the court’s revenue is on pace to beat last year, Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer says it is hard to say if the trend will continue.

Until the court, which became established late last year, has been in operation for several years, it will be difficult to predict revenue streams, Griesheimer added.

Traffic cases that are handled by the court were heard in circuit court prior to the establishment of the county’s municipal court.

Now the county is able to capture revenue from fines that had been going to the state, Griesheimer said, adding, “It’s all part of local control.”

Court costs and fines paid by defendants are the main sources of revenue for the county municipal court.

Each traffic-related case has court costs of $47.50, and that is divided between the county and state agencies. The county keeps $25.87 of the court costs. Tickets for failing to wear a seat belt do not have court costs.

The county portion of the court costs is divided between the general fund, law enforcement training fund, law enforcement sales tax fund, prosecuting attorney’s training fund and the municipal court fund.

The county keeps all of the fines, which totaled $39,117 for April.

Between court costs and fines, the municipal court brought in $53,842 in April.

County Treasurer Debbie Aholt said the court still has to pay back $45,000 to the county’s general fund from a loan that was given to get the court operating. It has not been decided when that money will be paid back, Aholt said.

For the year, the court has handled 1,339 cases and disposed of 1,138 of them.

They are all traffic related cases. The court also was established to handle code violations pertaining to health, zoning and building regulations.

Budget projections show that the court will be self-sufficient this year through revenue from court costs and fines.

It is estimated that the court will have more than $109,000 left over at the end of the year.

But based on actual collections, there could be more.

The court’s expenditures for the year are budgeted at $156,883. Of that, $70,583 is for wages and benefits. The court employs a part-time judge and a full-time clerk.

Other expenses include $76,800 for services, most of which goes to the Union law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson & Becker. The firm is paid $5,500 a month, or $66,000 a year, to act as prosecutor for the court.