Citing nearly $3 million in outstanding issues resulting from unpaid traffic tickets, the city of Palmview is giving residents an opportunity to pay their tickets without being arrested.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, council members unanimously approved an amnesty program for residents to pay their outstanding warrants at the Palmview Municipal Court. Court Administrator Gloria Acevedo said the city is looking to pay off nearly $3 million in fines as a result of 5,167 warrants the city has that date from as far back as 2010.
“People have the misunderstanding that since they have a warrant out for them they’ll get arrested once they come here to pay. That’s not going to happen,” Acevedo said of the program. “We’re starting it Monday, Feb. 26 and letting it run through March 9 but may even extend it through the end of March. We’re hoping that since it’s income tax season, people will want to pay their tickets with their refund.”
Acevedo said the warrants stem from people failing to pay their Class C misdemeanor tickets -violations stemming from public intoxication, speeding and driving without a license – which cost up to $176. However, people are charged an additional $300 for a warrant fee and failure to appear in court.
Under the amnesty program, both of those fees would be waived, Acevedo said.
“The last time we offered the amnesty program we had around $100,000 in fees paid off,” Acevedo said. “But with $3 million in fees, we need to lower that.”
Residents can make a payment online at trafficpayment.com or in Palmview City Hall at 400 W. Veterans Blvd.
In other business, the city council also approved a resolution to begin establishing a Sister City with Canadian cities. According to Palmview interim city Manager Leonardo Olivares, a large number of Winter Texans who stay in the Valley during the winter are from Canada.
“It’s a significant amount of economic impact they bring to the Valley,” Olivares said, adding that Winter Texans spend around $30 million per year and have an indirect economic impact of $760 million throughout the Valley. “A relationship like this would be new and novel in the Valley. I’m not sure how many other cities do this but a relationship like this would give us some kind of exposure and bring business to the community.”
Olivares recommended the council look for a city in the municipalities of Russell, from the Canadian province of Manitoba, Saskatoon, from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and Edmonton, from the Canadian province of Alberta.
“A major source of Winter Texans are from Ontario followed by Manitoba so we’ll look into Ontario and then use Manitoba as a backup,” Olivares said. “Usually in the Sister Cities community you want to find a city that is comparable to your own so we need one that’s in a suburban community in a metro area.”
The city council unanimously approved this motion, with Council Member Ricky Villarreal expressing enthusiasm for it.
“It’s another world they bring to us,” Villarreal said of the Canadian Winter Texans. “With Canada and Mexico as our neighboring countries we should address people from both those countries. Canadian Winter Texans are here for several months out of the year and contribute to our community.”
Olivares said the city will reach out to the Canadian cities within the next few weeks to begin negotiations for the Sister City program.