Anyone who owes money to the Tyler Municipal Court is in for a deal.
The court will offer a month-long Citation Solution Program to help anyone who owes a fine and fees to the court to get on a payment plan.
The program will apply to people with and without warrants.
Deputy Court Administrator Nicole Johnson said from June 12 through July 12, residents can set up a payment plan for $50, and then pay it out for $100 a month. The initial payment goes toward the balance of the ticket. It is not a service fee.
“We have done warrant specials in the past, but we never directly included those who weren’t behind as well,” Ms. Johnson said.
Depending on the circumstance, the program can offer substantial savings.
Normally, there is a $25 fee per charge to set up a payment plan. That fee increases to $200 down if an arrest warrant was issued, and $300 if a capias warrant was issued, meaning a court order was violated.
The city has about 43,000 outstanding warrants on the books, totaling $18 million in outstanding fees and fines. Those numbers date back to the 1990s, and include some that may never get resolved - including people who moved away, or were juveniles at the time and now are adults. Some got married and changed their name, and some may be in prison or have died.
This Citation Solution Program is also longer than ones in the past. Ms. Johnson said how frequently residents get paid affects how soon they can pull the down payment together, and the court wanted as many people to take advantage of the program as possible.
People who have been issued an arrest warrant, but the papers have not been served are eligible for the program. Once the papers are served, the person is no longer eligible.
No one will be arrested for taking care of a warrant before the papers are served, Ms. Johnson said.
“I know many people have the impression if they come into the court that they will go to jail,” she said. “That is not the case. If a person comes in voluntarily to handle their business, they will not go to jail, even if there is a warrant for those charges. They will not be arrested.”
If $50 down and $100 a month is too steep, residents can request a visit with the judge to set a more affordable payment plan after they set one up.
“All customers have the right to talk to the judge about amending their payment arrangement to something they can afford,” Ms. Johnson said. “You have to come in and get an appointment.”
Residents can request a meeting before a judge in-person, by fax or by mail.
The court is at 813 N. Broadway Ave., and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Its fax number is 903-531-1369, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 895, Tyler, Texas 75702.
Residents are asked to call the court if they are unsure of their case status or if they qualify for the program. That number is 903-531-1266.