ST. LOUIS – A new Missouri law could potentially mean millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra fees. It could also impact the cost of your next lawyer.
“That’s $5,000 out of my pocket that I don’t want to pass onto my client because it’s a competitive business,” said one process server, who did not want to be identified.
He pointed out that the newly signed public safety bill, SB 186, adds a $10 fee to every paper filed. That money will go into a retirement fund for sheriff’s departments across Missouri.
“This $10 extra fee is not our fault they don’t have the money to fund this retirement,” the process server said.
What does that mean in St. Louis? More than 13,000 Associate Circuit Court cases were filed just last year in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Circuit Clerk’s Office. The additional fee would generate a total of more than $130,000. That does not count small claims court filings and subpoenas.
The funding is not St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts’ doing, but he was pleasantly surprised.
“I’m interested in what’s going on, because as it stands right now, Vernon Betts is not going to get a pension from the City of St. Louis,” he said. “And I’d like to get one when I decide to retire in the next few years or whenever.”
The process server who called pointed out that St. Louis already has higher fees than anywhere else in the state. To serve papers in the city, you must pay $500 to take a training course and $250 a year to maintain your license.
The process server who called FOX 2 said, “Trying to get a license in the city is a chilling effect on people doing what I do.”
Betts said he was unaware of the new fees and complaints.
“We’re going to go back…I’m not just going to go sweep this under the rug,” he said. “If somebody is questioning how we do things, I want to make sure we’re doing the right thing and doing it the right way.”
Sheriff Betts pointed out that the mandatory training was imposed by the courts during a previous administration. He says the training is intensive and over multiple days.
“So, this ain’t like being a paperboy or something like that; no, you’re serving papers that somebody may be upset about and could cause some problems, so we want everybody to go through that training, so we know you’re properly serving the people. It’s for both sides.”