After providing a statement explaining the purpose of the $25 city surcharge on violations of state laws processed through the Municipal Court that the Montana Supreme Court recently found to be inappropriate, City Communications Director Ginny Merriam broke down where the $25 actually goes.

“The Missoula City Council put the surcharge in place in July of 2003,” said Merriam. “The original idea, and it still holds, was to help fund the city courts system. So, it’s sort of a user fee for people who have been charged with state offenses.”

The original fee was $18, and Merriam explains why the surcharge was raised to $25.

“The last increase in the fee was from $18 to $25, because they added $7 to help support the prosecution work of the city attorney’s office,” she said. “All of these things cost money, so in order to have a criminal justice system, you have to pay police and for all the equipment everybody needs to make arrests and to write tickets and that kind of thing. And then, you have to have attorneys and you have to have a court.”

Merriam said of the $25 fee, $7 dollars goes to the city attorney’s office and the $18 goes to fund the function of the court.

On Monday night, the Missoula City Council voted unanimously to drop the current $25 City surcharge on violations of Montana state laws that are processed through City of Missoula Municipal Court.

Merriam commented that she does not know how the city will recoup the funds that need to support the court system, and that it will be an important topic to lawmakers for some time to come.

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