The County of Santa Clara
California

Resolution
BOS-2017-6

Adopt Resolution to repeal the assessment and collection of all juvenile probation administrative fees and the juvenile legal service fees, therefore authorizing the Finance Agency to write-off accounts receivable balances for juvenile criminal or civilly assessed fines and fees. (Roll Call Vote) (Office of the County Executive)

Information

Department:Office of the County ExecutiveSponsors:
Category:Resolution

Attachments

  1. Printout
  2. Resolution

Body

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

During the FY 2016- 2017 Budget Process (Inventory Item No. 39), administration allocated a combined total of $300,000 of one-time funds from the General Fund Contingency Reserve to the Probation and Public Defender departments to offset the projected revenue loss due to the moratorium on the assessment of juvenile fees. The FY 2017 – 2018 revenue will be reduced by $400,000 in the County Executive’s Recommended Budget for FY 2017-2018.

In addition, the Finance Agency will write-off outstanding receivables balances for uncollectible accounts on the General Fund balance sheet in the amount of $21.6 million for juvenile administrative fees and $1.9 million for truancy fees.  This item has no budgetary implications because revenue from the collection of these fees and fines is booked into the General Fund on a cash basis.

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on June 14, 2016, Administration was directed to develop a resolution establishing a one-year moratorium on the assessment of all juvenile fees, effective July 1, 2016, and to report back at the Children, Seniors, and Families Committee (CSFC) a plan for the repeal of such fees. On December 15, 2016, the CSFC received the report and directed Administration to provide a resolution for the Board’s consideration that repeals the assessment and collection of all juvenile administrative fees and the juvenile legal service fees, and to provide a communication strategy for the public dissemination of this information. 

Eliminating the assessment and collection of juvenile fees is critical to the financial health of our youth and their families in this county. The fees imposed on the juvenile population create unnecessary hardship for families causing them to choose between basic necessities such as rent, food, and utilities. In fact, research has proven that financial penalties do not reduce recidivism among the juvenile population. Instead the imposition of fees, heightens racial disparities in the juvenile justice system as most affected are low-income youth of color.  As a County our goal is to disconnect youth from the criminal justice system and with the repeal of such fees, we are moving in the direction to foster a less punitive environment for our youth and their families.

 

Plan for Implementing the Repeal and Communication Strategy

The Recommended Action is a resolution that repeals all Juvenile Administrative Fees, effective January 24, 2017. The Department of Revenue (DOR) would identify accounts in its database related to juvenile administration fees and cease collections immediately. These fees include Juvenile Court Ward Fee, Juvenile Electronic Monitoring Program Fee, Juvenile Records Checks, Legal Service Administration Fee, court-assessed fee for legal services representation, and Truancy Fine. There are no operational complications with respect to management or staff as a result of the repeal. Upon approval of the Recommended Action, DOR’s system will immediately stop all collections activities for ongoing payment plans, checks would be returned to payors and not be cashed, and no action would be taken on passive collections.

Upon approval of the recommended action by the Board, the Department of Revenue will notify the debtors with accounts related to juvenile administration fees and juvenile legal service fees within its database that their debt will no longer be collected due to a formal repeal. Because the DOR will be using the last known address and the notification may not reach all impacted individuals, County Administration would provide broader public messaging such as a press and community announcements. 

 

CHILD IMPACT

The recommended action will a positive effect on children and youth as it will remove the financial burden placed on their families.

 

SENIOR IMPACT

The recommended action will have positive impact on seniors by reducing the costs associated with the incarceration of family members.

 

SUSTAINABILITY IMPLICATIONS

The recommended action will have no/neutral sustainability impacts.

 

BACKGROUND

California Welfare and Institutions Code authorizes counties to charge families for costs incurred in the juvenile system. Fees for the cost of the Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP) and/or housing in Juvenile Hall or the Juvenile Ranch, are owed by the parents of minors who receive these services and who are represented by the Public Defender. Per Welfare and Institutions Code 903.45, these fees can be reduced or eliminated if it is shown by a formal evaluation that the parents do not have the ability to pay the fees. The ability to pay evaluations are conducted by the Department of Revenue (DOR), the County’s central collection service.

DOR collection efforts include multiple noticing and direct calling by collection officers. Collection Officers conduct the ability to pay evaluations, as well as work with parents to explain the accounts and set up payment plans. Many accounts are determined to be uncollectible due to unsuccessful outreach, low financial means of the debtor, or other circumstances, such as incarceration. Currently, 43% of fees owed have been determined to be uncollectible. When in-house collection efforts have been exhausted, but a social security number is known, the accounts are referred to the Franchise Tax Board Tax Intercept Program (FTB TIP). This program does not issue wage garnishments or bank levies.

 

CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION

There would be no repeal on the assessment and collection of all juvenile probation administrative fees and the juvenile legal service fees, and collections would continue.

 

Meeting History

Jan 24, 2017 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Added to the Consent Calendar at the request of President Cortese.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Ken Yeager, Supervisor
SECONDER:Cindy Chavez, Supervisor
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Ken Yeager, S. Joseph Simitian