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Kokua Line

No negotiating once traffic fine lapses into collections mode

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Question: What are my options if I want to pay off my fines for traffic violations I got back in 2007 and 2008? Do I have to pay the added fees tacked on? Since my fines were sent to a collection agency, they want me to pay almost $700 for tickets that totaled $542. When I asked why, they initially told me that that was the correct amount and that everything goes to the Traffic Violations Bureau. Only after I contacted the bureau did I see how much they were inflating the fines. Is there some other way to pay or to get the collection agency to reduce their fee?

Answer: Unfortunately, since your case was turned over to the collection agency, you’re stuck not only with the fines to the state, but the 21.21 percent fee to the agency as well.

State law allows the Hawaii State Judiciary to hire a bonded collection agency to collect delinquent traffic fines and fees for a fee up to 50 percent of the amount owed the state, said spokeswoman Marsha Kitagawa.

Under the contract with Municipal Service s Bureau, the fee was set at 21.21 percent.

In your case, the total amount owed is $656.98, which is $542 in fines for three citations, plus the fee of $114.96 to the service bureau, which it is entitled to keep, Kitagawa said.

Your complaint was forwarded to the bureau, which records all phone conversations.

Kitagawa said she was able to listen to tapes of your conversations in which a female representative told you that "every penny collected goes to the courts."

"She is wrong," Kitagawa said.

She also heard a male representative who was unable to explain why the amount the Municipal Service Bureau was seeking is higher than the original judgment. But he was correct when he said the amount must be collected in full and any reduction cannot be negotiated, Kitagawa said.

As a result of your experience, the bureau will see that its representatives are aware that 21.21 percent of the amount collected for the state is authorized and that that fee is added to the delinquent fines.

"MSB will also see that its representatives are reminded of the necessity of maintaining a professional and courteous dialogue with a client," Kitagawa said.

Question: Since the city’s trash cans are the property of the homeowner, isn’t it illegal for people to search your trash can? Twice, I have seen a lady on our street (I don’t think she lives here) searching through trash cans and bags. Should I call police?

Answer: Under Section 9-1.6 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, "No person shall," among other things, "remove or disturb any refuse, green waste, and other recyclable materials as designated by the director (of Environmental Services) from the place where the same has been placed for collection."

The main concern is ID theft. You are advised to call police if you see this happening.

However, Environmental Services has inspectors going out mornings before refuse trucks arrive to look through people’s garbage for various reasons, said spokesman Markus Owens.

It may be a resident has asked for a second cart and inspectors are monitoring trash and recycling habits, he said. Another reason is that inspectors may be trying to determine the source of some "contamination" in a particular area.

 

AUWE

To the driver in the pickup truck with flower decals on the side that was in the Kunia Walmart parking lot on Monday, between 10 and 11 a.m. You damaged my car and left before I could get information from you. — Hard Luck Senior Citizen

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

 

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