The following cost-saving tips come to you today courtesy of the Kansas courts.
Want to save money?
Don't speed. Or run stop signs.
Don't argue with anybody to the point where you have to sue them.
Don't get divorced.
Don't commit crimes.
Don't let anyone in your family die and prompt you to pay probate court costs.
There's more to this, but here's the point:
The Kansas government has found itself short of a commodity called money. So it found a way to raise money, without raising taxes.
If you get a traffic ticket, you're going to see how the government found that money when you see the increased court costs.
The increase isn't much, technically. The surcharge on nearly all court cases, including tickets, was $17.50. Earlier this month, it went up to $22.
But when you add that extra $4.50 to the rest of the docket fees (and fines with traffic tickets) it all adds up to more for them and less for you.
Here is what happened:
Kansas legislators, concerned after seeing the court system close for four days last year from lack of money, passed a law that went into effect July 1.
It increases the surcharge on traffic tickets, criminal cases, civil cases, probate cases and others by 25 percent.
The good news is, they think this will raise an additional $11 million for your court system — without raising taxes on those of us who don't go to court, obtain a marriage license or file a will.
The bad news is, if you get a ticket, and if you plead guilty or get convicted, you'll pay the fine, plus a docket fee and surcharge of $98. That docket fee and surcharge before July 1 was $93.50.
The further bad news is that it will also cost you more now to go to court for nearly any reason, whether for a criminal charge or for lawsuits, divorce, probate or anything else.
If you get divorced or to file any lawsuit, it will cost you $178 now in the total docket fee to file a case. Before July 1, the surcharge plus docket fees was $173.
For a complete look at individual court costs, with the increases, go to www.kscourts.org.
These costs are in addition to whatever you're spending on legal fees.
Ron Keefover, the information officer for the Kansas Judicial Branch, said legislators debated this for a while. Some lawyers opposed raising the surcharge fee because they said it was one more way to make life more expensive for the many people who have to go to court but who can't afford to pay that extra fee.
But other legislators pointed out that it would make more sense, from their point of view, to charge more for court services to those who are actually using the courts, rather than to close the courts for a few days, denying everyone access to the courts.
It also made more sense to do it this way, Keefover said, rather than to increase the burden on taxpayers, including those taxpayers who don't sue and don't get tickets.