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You Can't Pay Court Fines at 3 a.m. Anymore at the Courthouse

A staffing change and a tight budget have led the Jefferson Circuit Clerk’s office to stop taking payments for fines 24/7.For years, clerks were available at all hours at the Hall of Justice in downtown Louisville to accept fine payments and other administrative matters. But a recent change to spread district court dockets throughout the day meant that more staff were needed on the court’s dayside.“We don’t have the luxury of like private sector, just hiring more people. We can’t do that," says Kevin Connell, chief of state in the circuit clerk's office. "And we don’t have the luxury of paying overtime. They’ve eliminated that. So, we just had to reallocate those resources off of third shift."To compensate for the change, the clerk’s office will now only process bail bonds, mental inquest warrants and domestic violence petitions at all hours. But fine payments will no longer be accepted from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., nor on Sundays. Four staff members have moved to daytime shifts during the week.Kentucky’s courts have run with a sparse budget in recent years because of economic conditions and the state’s budget issues. Last year, court employees statewide were furloughed three days. That didn't happen this year, but budget constraints remain, Connell says.I think the thing we’re seeing is our manning is staying flat, but our through-put—our demand—is increasing," Connell says.Connell says the Jefferson Circuit Clerk’s office has seen increased demand at its driver’s license branch but has to get approval from the state’s court system even to fill vacancies.Court fines can be paid at anytime calling (866) 396-1751. payable citations can be paid at courts.ky.gov/payments.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.