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York County expands window hours to pay court costs
People making in-person payments on their court costs, fines and restitution in York County Common Pleas Court will now have more than two extra hours in the day to do so.
Starting Monday, Feb. 5, the Costs & Fines unit of the York County Clerk of Courts office will be open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell said. Until Feb. 5, the Costs & Fines window will be open during its regular hours, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., he said.
O'Shell said the suggestion to expand the window hours was made during a brainstorming session initiated by York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes.
But the idea itself isn't new, he said.
"Frankly, the sheriff and I have been discussing it for years," O'Shell said. "I just haven't had the resources to do it."
Then York County commissioners provided the clerk's office with funding to hire two workers from a temp agency, according to O'Shell.
"We're not certain of the permanency of this," he said. "It's an experiment."
O'Shell said the change goes beyond making it easier for defendants to pay.
Focus on collections: Employees in Costs & Fines are supposed to focus on collections but have had to take turns handling window transactions.
"This (change in hours) will allow them to focus on collections tasks," he said, which can be time-consuming and arduous.
Those employees are typically given "a couple hundred pages" of updates a week that they must "plow through," O'Shell said.
He said he's also looking into the possibility of creating an automated kiosk that would be similar to an ATM and take cash payments at any hour. If that comes to fruition, window hours could be reduced, he said.
O'Shell said he has checked with the state's Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which oversees administration functions of all of Pennsylvania's courts. He said the AOPC "is open to discussion" about the idea.
People can already make payments online at any time on the York County website and on the state's AOPC-run website, he said.
No hardship: Staying open later isn't an issue for sheriff's deputies doing security at the York County Judicial Center, according to O'Shell.
That's because people already go into the building after normal business hours, he said, including clients who have evening visits with their probation officers.
O'Shell said York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber has been very supportive.
"We man the (judicial center) doors 24-7," Keuerleber told The York Dispatch. "It's not going to put any hardship on our office."
The sheriff noted the expanded hours should make it easier for people who work during the day to make payments on their court fees.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.