Tag Archives: clerks

Clerks Refusing to Yank Driver Licenses for Failure to Pay Court Costs

Starting July 1, clerks throughout Tennessee gained the power to begin suspending driver’s licenses if court fees and fines go unpaid for a year. But The Tennessean reports that not a single license has been suspended, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
Even Tommy Bradley, chief administrative officer for the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s Office and the man who wrote the law, is holding off until Aug. 1 to give debtors one last chance to pay at least something.
Other clerks are questioning whether to suspend licenses at all, out of logistical or moral reservations.
“I just want to wait and see,” said Wilson County Circuit Court Clerk Linda Neal. “I’m afraid this law is going to be hurting the people who would really like to put out the effort to pay and they simply can’t.”
Bradley acknowledges there is “widespread” opposition to the law, which he wrote to help collect hundreds of millions in uncollected court costs.
…Neal said that aside from moral qualms at saddling poor offenders with even more burdens, she’s not sure she has the money or staff to send out notices and then process debtors for suspensions.
“We’ve got all the work that we can say grace over now,” Neal said. “To me, it’s going to be more record-keeping and a little bit more difficult to keep up with.”
Neal said she’s more likely to just continue sending unpaid debts to a collection agency. It’s cheaper and easier on her overworked staff.

Investigation of City Clerks’ Alleged Theft Dropped; Reporter Won’t Disclose Source

State authorities have closed their investigation into the disappearance of formal reprimands issued to four Lenoir City assistant clerks found by an audit last year to have used City Hall’s cash drawer as a personal ATM, reports Natalie Alund.
The decision follows a review by a Loudon County grand jury, which returned no indictment, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm confirmed Monday.
In January, the News Sentinel obtained copies of July 2010 reprimands written by Bobby Johnson Jr., the city’s former recorder/clerk/treasurer. Johnson wrote the reprimands to discipline clerks in his office. The paperwork was not in the personnel files during a public inspection by a News Sentinel reporter.
When the reporter brought the missing reprimands to the attention of Mayor Tony Aikens and City Attorney James Scott, they asked District Attorney General Russell Johnson to investigate. Shortly after, the prosecutor asked the News Sentinel to reveal who supplied the missing records. The newspaper declined to reveal its source.
“The answers to which we have been seeking now lie with the Knoxville News Sentinel and its reporter,” the prosecutor said Monday. “We can’t go any further.”
….”The investigation does not identify with sufficient evidence any one individual for prosecution,” prosecutor Johnson wrote in a letter dated June 23 to Aikens.

Predicted Increase in Business Tax Collections Fails to Materialize (so far)

A predicted increase in business taxes has not materialized after the state took over collections from county clerks, reports WPLN. A law shifting business tax collections to the state from counties was enacted two years ago at the urging of former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration.
The Tennessee Department of Revenue argued it was better equipped to crack down on delinquent businesses. But instead of $21 million in new revenue, collections for 2010 were only slightly higher than the prior year.
From the beginning, big city county clerks like Davidson County’s John Arriola believed it worked well for businesses to register for a license and pay their taxes all in one place – the county clerk’s office.
“We felt like we were already doing a good job, especially in the urban areas where the business taxes are collected.”
A year into the state takeover, Arriola said his office was down a million dollars in revenue. Clerks from Shelby and Knox counties testified to a special legislative committee that they too watched revenues drop instead of pick up.