Commission backs plan to charge fee

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
The Escambia County Commission has thrown its support behind a piece of proposed legislation which would allow the Sheriff's Office to charge $15 per document when serving civil papers.
The new charge would be passed on to those using the system. In short, if you were to sue someone, you could expect to pay $15 to the Sheriff's Office for their making that defendant aware of the suit by serving them with papers.
The service of civil papers is something the Sheriff's Office is already doing. Currently, there is a $3 fee charged for each service of civil papers, which goes directly into the county's general fund.
But the additional $15 fee would be set aside to fund a new position within the Sheriff's Office – a deputy whose job it would be to serve civil papers.
This, Smith said, would allow him to free up another of his deputies for patrol duties, thereby improving his office's ability to respond to criminal incidents.
In addition to creating the new position, money from the $15 fee would go toward funding technological improvements within the department, Smith said.
It is estimated that the new fee would generate between $25,000 and $30,000 a year.
For the new fee to be in effect, it must be approved by the state legislature during its next session, which begins in February. Smith said he believes he has the necessary support from local lawmakers to get the measure passed.
In other action, the commission voted Monday to approve the lease payments for a Sheriff's Office vehicle purchased with ICE funds. ICE, which stands for Isolating the Criminal Element, is the federal grant mechanism by which the county is funding a new position within the Sheriff's Office to investigate crimes involving federal weapons violations.
The vehicle will be used by the officer filling that position.
The lease payments for the vehicle will amount to two annual payments of approximately $11,000.
In other action, the commission:
Previously, county employees could only take sick leave in one-hour increments. Now, they will be able to break leave taken into quarter-hour periods.
The commission voted to recess its current meeting until 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 15. If no business the commission must deal with develops between now and then, that meeting will be cancelled, and the commission will reconvene again for its next mandatory meeting, the second Monday in January.