Deadbeats owe Oktibbeha $500K-plus

The Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Oktibbeha County says it’s owed about half a million dollars, but collecting is a tough matter.

The Starkville Daily News reports that, according to county Justice Court records, as of early August, more than 2,700 people owed delinquent fines.

The list totals $539,930.20 in delinquent fines.

The records categorized the delinquent fines by how far they were past their due dates. The “over 48 months” category was by far the largest, with a total of $211,652.05 — or about 40 percent of the total debt —waiting to be collected.

Justice Clerk Nora Goliday says tracking debtors is difficult and could be one reason the fines are piling up.

“The only ones we can keep up with are the ones we know are deceased in Oktibbeha County,” she said. “I can get the death certificate or an obituary. Trying to find deceased, especially out of state, can be like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Goliday said the court kept computerized records, but it updated more quickly if the debtor lived in Mississippi. She said she’s been trying to determine if there were ways to access any national databases for death certificates to make keeping up with long-distance debtors easier.

Similarly, debtors moving can present challenges for collecting fines.

“Say you’re a student at MSU (Mississippi State University) and your address is an apartment in Starkville,” Goliday said. “If you move, we don’t know that. Then you have people that may move five or six times in a year, and how do you keep up with that? If you have people getting evicted from their apartments, how do we keep up with that?”