Editorials

Convenience shouldn’t have steep surcharge

The water tower at Blue Mound is photographed on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Blue Mound finally won its fight with Monarch Utilities over ownership of the water systems that serves the tiny city.
The water tower at Blue Mound is photographed on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Blue Mound finally won its fight with Monarch Utilities over ownership of the water systems that serves the tiny city. Star-Telegram

People in Blue Mound are about to find out how much they would pay for convenience.

California-based Vigilant Solutions, a private vehicle surveillance technology company, gave the small Tarrant County city two automatic license plate readers and credit card readers for free. Blue Mound now could be able to scan license plates, find ones attached to outstanding fines warrants, pull those drivers over and give them a choice. Pay the fine now or go to jail.

Though it sounds convenient, there is a 25 percent surcharge to use the credit card machines.

For example, let’s say Mary Joe has an unpaid court fine of $247.10. If she chose to pay the fine instead of jail, she would have to tack on an extra $61.77, making her new total $308.87.

That $61.77 might be worth the convenience for some, but, arguably, many people can’t pay their fines. So the odds are, they can’t pay the surcharge either.

In Decatur last year, none of the 12 flagged cars opted to use the credit-card machines, though other cities have seen success.

Twenty five percent is a steep surcharge, one that most probably won’t pay. And with the program already raising eyebrows with its privacy rules, the “convenience” Vigilant Solutions provides doesn’t seem worth it.

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