Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shift away from checking reduced hot-check fund revenues in Odessa

Here's an unexpected consequence of the shift away from checks to plastic in recent years - less money in county Hot Check Funds, which are slush funds controlled by County Attorneys generated by an escalating array of fees on hot checks. Reported KOSA out of Odessa:
The Ector County Attorney's office is passionate about going after hot check offenders, but over the past two and a half years that Hot Check fund has depleted from $305,667 at the beginning of 2009 to just $108,709 as of May 31, 2011.

County Attorney Cindy Weir-Nutter explains they're working hard to go after hot check offenders, but with a decrease in businesses accepting checks, there are fewer to recover.
"It's just common sense that checks are a thing of the past and so the fund is going to go down."
An election opponent agrees the shift away from checks is the main driver for the lower fund balance, though she also accuses the incumbent Ector County Attorney of unnecessary spending on office furniture. An even bigger factor, though, may be that lower-income families, who are most likely to bounce checks, have been closing their bank accounts in droves in part because of higher bank fees and minimum balances as well as, naturally, "overdraft" fees. So if fewer poor people have bank accounts and fewer businesses are accepting checks, it's a reasonable bet that County Attorneys' hot-check fund balances will continue to decline and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the same thing happening in other counties as well.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

What's to stop county officials, OTOH, from doing what the state does now, stuff like charging you a buck for an online processing fee for your DL renewal? I'm surprised something like that isn't already popping up all over the place for debit and/or credit card transactions.