published Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Marion County rejects bids for court fine collections

By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent
  • photo
    Marion County Mayor John Graham stands in front of the Marion County Courthouse.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County commissioners have rejected bids for court fines collection in an effort to find a better deal.

The board unanimously voted this week to decline the two bids it received from collection agencies intent on recovering unpaid court costs and fines.

County Mayor John Graham recommended the action after initial meetings this month with representatives of companies he felt might offer the county a better deal.

“After the fact, we have had a couple of contacts with other agencies that, on the face of it, appear to have probably better proposals than the two we received,” he said.

Graham did not identify the agencies with which he’s been in contact, but said he felt rebidding the proposed contract was the best route to take.

“After some discussion among myself, [Marion County Attorney] Billy Gouger and some people in the court system, the proper action might be to reject [these two bids] and put it out for bid again to see if we can get a better bid than we did the first time, but that’s the commission’s call,” he said.

In April, officials said the county had more than $201,000 in uncollected court fines and costs over the past year, and Commission Chairman Gene Hargis estimated a loss of nearly $1.5 million in the past decade.

Those numbers prompted the board to seek an agency to recoup the mounting losses.

Gouger said that since the bids the county already received have been rejected, the board will rebid the debt collection services contract.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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