In about three weeks court fees are going up, some by over 400 percent.
"It had become a burden on the counties and that was the big issue. It was supposed to be a state court system, but the counties were funding a large portion of that because they were picking up things that the state wasn't funding. When Article 5 was passed, that changed all that," said Harold Bazzel, Clerk of Court for Bay County.
Thanks to what's known as Article 5, the state is taking over most costs associated with the courts. That means no more asking the county for help, as the courts have done in the past.
"The only way to fund the court system, to make it basically pay for itself, was to increase the filing fees. Some filing fees have not been increased in 25 to 30 years," said Bazzel.
Fees for virtually everything are going up. Wanna sue someone for more than $15,000? Filing fees for that are going up from $96 to $255. Want to get divorced? Right now, it costs $164. After July 1 it will cost you $363. If you're busted for speeding, the ticket's going to cost you more.
Right now, if you're caught going between 10 and 14 miles over, it costs you $118. After July 1 it'll cost you $154. Fifteen to19 miles-per-hour over, the fine jumps from a $143 to $179.
Another change comes in the responsibility of collecting fines, like speeding tickets. The state wants county courts to collect as much money as possible.
"Come July 1, we're going to have to go out there and try to collect all these costs and fines. Right now we're collecting about 40 percent. We can do much better than that," said Bazzel.
To help with that, the courts are looking at working with a collection agency, so if you don't pay a fine, that could wind up affecting your credit. The court fee increase is being finalized. It'll be available early next week on the bay county clerk of court website: www.baycoclerk.com