GALVESTON — City officials are refusing to release names and other information about scofflaws who collectively owe Galveston more than $28 million in fines and other costs associated with outstanding municipal court warrants.
That position is notably different from that of many other Texas cities, which routinely publish such lists on their own websites, or through local news organizations, in an effort to collect the money.
City staff members talked all summer about ramping up collection efforts to help close holes in the city’s budget. The $28.6 million, owed on 80,479 outstanding warrants dating back to 2004, is equal to 65 percent of the city’s projected general revenue stream of $43 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year. It is 130 percent of the $22 million the city expects to raise through ad valorem taxes for the same period.
People end up on the warrant list when they don’t show up for municipal court or otherwise resolve citations for traffic violations or such misdemeanor infractions as public intoxication and disorderly conduct. By the time a warrant is issued, they’ve typically racked up several hundred dollars in fines, fees and court costs.
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