This article originally appeared in the Friday Aug. 2, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
Palmview and Palmhurst joined the Hidalgo County scofflaw program on Tuesday, preventing motorists with unpaid traffic tickets from renewing their vehicle registrations.
The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court approved the agreements during a special meeting on Tuesday morning. Palmhurst and Palmview agreed to join the program in June.
“It’s proved to be a very effective program,” Palmview City Manager Michael Leo said on June 25, when the Palmview City Council approved the agreement. “Once a year, we all have to go get those plates, so this would be another avenue for us to increase collections of outstanding fees and fines.”
Under the program, municipal courts and justice of the peace courts share information with the Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office.
Palmview and Palmhurst will assess a $20 fee on people with warrants for failure to pay a fine or failure to appear as a result of a traffic ticket. The fee compensates Hidalgo County for administering the program.
Hidalgo County started the scofflaw program in 2012, according to the Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office. It’s designed to prevent people with unpaid fees or fines from registering or renewing vehicles.
Ten cities participated in the scofflaw program last year, said Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector Pablo “Paul” Villarreal Jr., who addressed the Palmview City Council on June 25. As a result of the program, cities collected about $900,000 in fees and fines from people who renewed vehicle registrations last year.
“It works,” Villarreal said. “And, of course, we’ll always treat the taxpayer, the person that has the ticket, with respect and tell them that they need to come by to the city and pay their citation, and we’ll be more than happy to provide their renewal.”