Sheriff Wants to Charge Actual Cost of Serving Civil Court Writs

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Nebraska taxpayers are footing some of the bill when a sheriff deputy serves civil court papers, and authorities say the costs can easily add up.

The Hall County Sheriff says he is looking for different solutions to cover costs so people who are not using the service, don't have to pay for it.

About 10,000 civil court papers are served every year in Hall County.

"We are losing about $10.17 per paper we serve," said Hall County Sheriff Jerry Watson.

Fees set by the legislature help this sheriff's office recoup some of those costs, but it all adds up.

"Just for easy figuring it's $300,000, is what it's costing us and we're collecting $200,000 of that so we are short $100,000," said Sheriff Watson.

Which is why Hall County Sheriff Jerry Watson is looking into different ways to help reduce the $100,000.

One of the options is asking the legislature for help by increasing fees for people who use the service.

"It is at a point where there is enough inertia with enough counties across the state where they want us to begin looking at this type of a thing. I've not heard that at this point and time, but I've had those discussions in the past with the Hall County Sheriff," said Senator Mike Gloor.

Senator Mike Gloor says it might be a discussion lawmakers take up, if there is enough interest.

"Really the bigger policy question that this brings up is what is the appropriate role for government and tax payer money to be used, versus what should be expect to pay for in fees," said Gloor.

While some call it a tax increase, Sheriff Watson says it's exactly the opposite, calling it tax relief, because right now tax payers are getting some of the bills associated with some what private use services.

In bigger counties like nearby Cherry County there could be more costs to taxpayers because it's such a big county.

Another solution put forward by Watson is to give control to local government and let them set the fees.

Thirty-Nine of 50 states use some form of that system. It's called home rule.