Whitehall reaps gains from online payments

A new online system is making it easier for people to pay their court fines and Whitehall is reaping the benefits.

For the past several months, the court has been using an online program that allows those convicted of a crime or traffic offense to pay their fines online.

“It’s been a big help,” said Julie Eagan, town and village justice. “It provides people with another avenue to pay their fines and they are more likely to pay and pay on time online.”

At last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, village clerk Stephanie LaChapelle said Eagan brought in nearly $9,235 in court revenue and she is on track to exceed that this month.

Eagan said the New York State Office of Court Administration notified Whitehall of the program, which is operated by nCourt, a private company that provides a platform to pay fines and tickets online in exchange for a small processing fee.

“It’s very transparent for us. They run the website and the court software uploads the fines right to the program,” Eagan said.

When a payment is made, the program automatically sends an email to the court, which is then reconciled with files on record inside the court.

The program has been a big help with collecting fines from traffic violations. Because Whitehall experiences a high volume of out-of-state traffic, collecting fines from people who lived outside the region was problematic especially with the court open only two days per week.

But between the online payment program and the help of a vendor that allows the court to process credit card payments in the courtroom and over the phone, officials have seen a decrease in delinquent payments.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people who pay their fines in the allotted time,” Eagan said.

That money goes back to the village and helps fund public services.

And because the program makes paying court fines more convenient, Eagan said the number of warrants issued for failing to comply has decreased, creating a win-win for both the court and the public.

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