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Carthage City Council to vote on increasing court costs - KOAM TV 7

Carthage City Council to vote on increasing court costs

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The Carthage City Council will vote tomorrow night on increasing court costs to benefit the Lafayette House in Joplin.

Officials say the proposed increase could potentially double the amount of funding the shelter receives.

City of Carthage officials say Missouri House Bill 1238, passed last legislative session, allows them to increase the court fee which generates revenue for the Lafayette House, from $1.50 to $3.50 in civil action cases.

"It's really nothing to the city because it's a pass through," said Mike Harris, mayor of City of Carthage. "All of that money goes to the Lafayette House."

Staff members say the Lafayette House currently receives about $70,000 each year from court fees in the cities and counties they serve.

Development director Louise Secker says an increase in those fees is much needed to keep up with rising expenses at the shelter.

"It's a real benefit to have that increase to our bottom line and to cover the expenses of housing people, providing shelter, counseling, child care, just all the support services involved with victims of domestic violence," Secker said.

Officials say if approved, the funds from the City of Carthage municipal court fees that go to the Lafayette House will more than double from around $3,300 to close to $8,000.

"The fees definitely add up," Secker said.

Other courts have already approved an increase.

Jasper County commissioners increased their fee to $4.00, which is expected to draw in around $14,000 a year for the Lafayette House.

"The courts implementing the increase, that could double the fees that we're currently getting and that's a big difference for us," Secker said.

"That's really the good thing about it," Harris said.  "It's going to help people."

The Lafayette House currently serves seven counties, and court fees make up about four percent of their overall operating budget.
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