Will toll violators clog local courts?

There are always unintended consequences of legislative action, and the worse the legislation the worse the unintended consequences are. Mike Krusee’s HB 3588 and the toll roads it has wrought on our area is the case in point. TxDOT literally has no plan, or system in place, about how to collect from drivers who refuse to pay their tolls, Tough road ahead collecting late tolls, other then possibly clogging local Justice courts in Travis and Williamson County.

TXDOT’s Wisconsin-based collection agency is now calling violators at home and sending letters to try and get them to pay their tolls and fees.

But if you ignore the collection agency, there is little they can do. They cannot contact your credit report, they cannot prevent you from renewing your driver’s license and they cannot stop you from registering your vehicle with the state.

Taking violators to court could be TXDOT’s only option to collect the money. But until an Interlocal Agreement is reached, county officials said those cases will not be heard.

[…]

More than 150,000 toll violators owe $56.1 million in outstanding tolls and “administrative fees” – but the Texas Department of Transportation is hitting a roadblock, or several, when it comes to collecting them.

To be exact, the amount of outstanding tolls is $3.12 million. But KXAN discovered TXDOT is charging some violators more than 4000 percent in those “administrative fees”. And those fees are what push the total amount of money owed to $56.1 million.

TXDOT said they’re now going to take those violators to court.

[…]

KXAN spoke with the elected officials in Williamson and Travis counties, and they agree with Gammon.

Travis County Treasurer Delores Ortega Carter said TXDOT needs to get their ducks in a row before they file any toll violation cases.

“They can file all the cases they want, how long they’ll be there we don’t know,” she said.

Carter’s colleague in Williamson County, Treasurer Vivian Wood concurs. “I just can’t see our judge and commissioners agreeing to anything even though the statute is there.”

County officials said it all boils down to what is called an Interlocal Agreement: A set of rules and guidelines to outline procedures dealing with court costs, collection of tolls and fees, where the money collected goes, payment methods, timeliness and line items.

They said there has got to be an Interlocal Agreement before any cases can be heard in county courtrooms. Ortega-Carter and Wood told KXAN they’ve been trying to get an agreement with TXDOT since 2006, but have not heard anything from the state agency.

“I don’t have anything from the state that tells me…and we don’t just send money down to the Comptroller without the state’s requirements for identification of those funds,” Wood said.

Ortega-Carter added: “We need to have a paper trail so that, for auditing purposes, we can see where it’s going. We don’t care how the state spends the money, that’s their problem. We do care how the county receives that money.”

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