Denton County commissioners approved sheriff and constable fees for lawsuit notifications for the upcoming year.
While some talk among members of the sheriff and constable fee committee centered on lowering the citation fees, commissioners voted Tuesday to leave them at the current rate of $60.
Precinct 3 Constable Jerry Rayburn said the citation is the first notice of a lawsuit that residents across the county see.
The citation can include a lot of things for many courts.
“The citation is what they send us to deliver to a defendant as the first notice they have been sued from the court,” Rayburn said. “That can include JP [Justice of the Peace] court, that can be county or district court, a divorce, any kind of lawsuit over property or money or business disagreements. It’s just a general term that lets the defendant know there has been a civil action filed against them.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell, who sits on the fee committee, noted the discussion about citation costs was thorough.
“There’s been lots of good discussion on whether this [fee amount] should stay or should we change it,” Mitchell said during the afternoon commissioner’s meeting. “I thought it should stay at $60 because of the amount of work the county and district clerks have to put into preparing these citations.”
Kate Lynass, director of administration who also is on the fee committee, said commissioners are given a recommendation on what the fee rate should be, but the fee committee could not come to a consensus this year. According to Commissioner’s Court agenda material, the county and district clerk offices concurred with a proposed change to lower the citation fee rate to $30.
By state statute, the Commissioner’s Court has to approve fees for various services that go into effect with a new budget year. Commissioners had to take action on it Tuesday to be in compliance with state law.
The fees were last raised in 2005 from $50 to $60 for citations. The fee amount covers the citation being delivered by certified/registered mail or by personal service, however it is decided by the court, Lynass said.
County Judge Mary Horn said that, from her personal experience, it costs $60 to get the citation served. She noted an example of some cases where mail delivery has been attempted but the person could not be reached and required personal delivery.
Horn said while officials can’t run the county at a profit, they still have an obligation to cover costs of the services provided, including the mail and personal service for citations.
In addition, to make the process smoother for the public, the citations will no longer be listed by categories such as certified mail, forceable detainer, by posting, etc. They will just be listed as “citations.”
“Having a set fee for all forms of citation is a good idea,” said Precinct 1 County Commissioner Hugh Coleman.
“If you want to have it done where it is mailed, posted on the door, served by the constable or sheriff’s department, it’s $60 bucks.”
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