City of Vicksburg to put names of people owing back fines online

Published 3:28 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

If you have outstanding fines with the city of Vicksburg, you could soon find your name on the city’s website.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved a resolution to publish the names of people owing back fines and charged in contempt of court warrants for not paying their fines on the city’s site. No date has been determined when the list will be placed online.

Mayor Pro Tem Alex Monsour said the city’s information technology employees are in the process of preparing a site to list the names.

 “We can only publish their name, the amount they owe and the city where they live,” City Attorney Nancy Thomas said. “Most people know if they owe something, but if their name is on there that they owe, then they can call and find out if it’s them.

“We’ve got to make certain we have the correct information and a warrant is on file at the police department,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to do some checks and balances before we put that (list) together.”

Monsour said publishing the list was the result of discussions between city officials about a way to create public awareness about the past-due fines.

“We had to make sure constitutionally that it’s OK and that’s what’s taken the time, to research the law,” he said. “We just think that it may be another tool that will help us get these warrants taken care of and collect these fines.”

The resolution comes as the Vicksburg Municipal Court begins its second amnesty period of the year to either reduce or eliminate the $3,652,307.29 presently owed the city in back fines.

It cites two Mississippi Attorney General’s opinions; one outlining the authority to publish the list and another indicating what information on the individual is allowed.

An Oct. 30, 2012, opinion to the city attorney of Lucedale says the city can publish a list of people who owe back fines on a website under its home rule authority allowed under state law.

According to the opinion, the city’s home rule authority under state law allows it to “adopt any orders, resolutions or ordinances with respect to such municipal affairs, property and finances” which are not in conflict with state law.

The second opinion involves a DeSoto County question about the kind of personal information that can be put online.

Recovering past due fines has been a problem for city officials.

Besides the amnesty program, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December 2019 approved an agreement with Municipal Intercept Co. LLC to work with the Mississippi Department of Revenue to put a lien on an individual’s state income tax refund if they owe the city money.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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