Officials, Frontenac Resident Clash over $3 Traffic Charge

Article excerpt

Warson Woods officials have dismissed a traffic charge against Frontenac resident John Alexander, but Alexander says that - as far as he is concerned - the case will continue.

Alexander is upset about a fee of $3 that the city charges to postpone municipal court cases.

He requested two postponements on his ticket for an unlit license plate. Prosecutor David Pentland agreed on Wednesday to dismiss the charge, if Alexander would pay court costs.

Alexander agreed.

The clerk told him that he owed $25 - $19 in court costs and $3 for each postponement. Alexander paid the $25 - in nickels, dimes and quarters - and vowed to sue the city to recoup the $6 in postponement fees. He says no one ever told him about those fees when he requested the postponements.

City officials say they did. Nevertheless, Mayor E. William Bergfeld reimbursed Alexander the $6 from his own pocket.

Because he got the money, Alexander is not suing, but he still isn't satisfied.

For one thing, when charges are dismissed, court costs are only supposed to be $12, according to the city's ordinance. Furthermore, court costs are $12 for all nonmoving violations, according to the ordinance

On Friday, city officials agreed to give him the $7 difference.

But Alexander still wants to see the ordinance changed because he thinks the continuance fees are unfair. He said he's called 20 cities around the area, and none of them have such a thing.

Neither Gary Markinson, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League, nor Kay Pedretti, director of the court services division for the Supreme Court, were familiar with such fees. Pedretti said that she can't comment on whether they are legal but said that she is not aware of any state statute relating to such a charge. "It is unique," she said.

Warson Woods officials say the problem may only be semantics. Other cities issue "no show" letters, which work the same way that continuances do and for which a range of fees are charged, Bergfeld said. …

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