The Casper City Council received an update on some Municipal Court financial reforms during their Tuesday, Feb. 26 work session. Municipal Judge Cally Lund told the Council about some policy changes and financial reviews the Municipal Court is undertaking.
“We have been working diligently with finance to find a better tracking system for the money that comes in and out of the court in addition to reconciling the current accounts that are maintained by the court,” a memo from Lund to the City Council reads.
Lund told the Council that the current focus of the reform was to account for some financial discrepancies that have not been reconciled since the Municipal Court switched the case management operating system it uses. She said that efforts are being taken to account for $295,656.69 that has not yet been reconciled.
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Lund said that the Municipal Court previously used an operating system called OMNI. A memo from Lund to the City Council explains that some different accounts were tied in with the old system such as Restitution account money and Bond account money.
The memo states that $3,000 to $4,000 in the bond account “will need to be examined as it was misappropriated during the transition form OMNI to JustWare.” JustWare is the name of the new software the Municipal Court is using.
Lund told the Council that the unreconciled accounts were likely due to clerical errors and said she didn’t suspect anything nefarious. She said the Municipal Court’s goal was to reconcile the accounts completely by July 1.
“The first step we are going to take is transferring any old name records that have current balances into JustWare and then we will follow procedure to pursue those funds,” Lund’s memo reads. “Clerical errors will need to be corrected, and then anything that is left which is deemed to be uncollectable will need to be written off both through finance and an order by the court to clear the case.”
Lund said that another reform the Municipal Court had undertaken was to establish a policy for the collection of court fees. She said there was previously no specific policy in place for this.
“There is a policy in place now that all court fees will be collected, and court appointed attorney fees will be assessed to the Defendants as long as they are able, being paid to the City of Casper,” reads Lund’s memo. “In addition, we are working toward making receipting for all of these items completely digital contained in the casefile to provide more accurate tracking.”
Lund’s memo states that another new policy was in place to ensure that the Victims Compensation account was reconciled every month and sent to the State “as these monies are held in Trust for the State and are paid for in addition to fines on certain offences.” The memo explains that the Victims Compensation account has been completely reconciled.
Lund added that the Municipal Court took over parking tickets on Jan. 1 and that those accounts were also being examined. She said she expects that review to finish by July 1.
In addition, Lund’s memo states that case files in the JustWare system were being audited “to determine the likelihood of collection of funds and following up on warrants.”
“Overall, the goal is to narrow the time frame by which we have open cases, and vigorously pursue Defendant Compliance within the first year,” the memo continues.
Lund delivers a monthly update to Council regarding the Municipal Court review and reform.