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Kandiyohi County selected as pilot site for court payments

Remodeling work is under way on the third floor of the Kandiyohi County Courthouse in Willmar where the state's new court payment center will be located. It's estimated 12 to 16 people will be employed at the center, which will process a variety of fines generated from all 87 counties. Carolyn Lange/West Central Tribune

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Courthouse has been selected as a pilot site for a centralized court payment system for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

The decision to locate this "one-of-a-kind" payment center in Willmar could mean the addition of 12 to 16 jobs for the Eighth Judicial District Court, said Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

The center will process payments for certain fines, such as traffic and Department of Natural Resources violations, for all 87 counties in the state, Kleindl said. "This is really big," he said.

Revenue from the fines goes to the state.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners will be hearing details about the program at 10 a.m. Tuesday during the regular board meeting at the Health and Human Services building.

Under the proposal, the state will lease the third floor of the Kandiyohi County Courthouse for what's being called the Minnesota Court Payment Center.

The third floor has been mothballed for several years and used only for storage.

Kleindl said some minor remodeling is being done to the office area, new floor coverings will be added and water to the restrooms will be reconnected. Revenue generated the first year or two will offset the cost of making the improvements.

At this point it's not known how many years the state intends to house the payment center in Willmar, but Kleindl said he hopes it's a long-term relationship.

The lease payment for the third floor of the courthouse will be the same as for the second floor, which the state also leases for the district court services housed there.

Kandiyohi County had been competing against several metro communities to host the center, which will be operated by the Court Services Division of the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Employees will be hired by the state.

Landing the contract is another example of the "partnership" Kandiyohi County has with the state's Judicial Branch. "This speaks well for the personnel in the Eighth District," said Kleindl. "This is a big deal."

The payment center is designed to streamline government and will "give us an opportunity to show the state that the Eighth District in Kandiyohi County is a hard-working, good group of people," Kleindl said. "It's a good deal for us and the state."

While the payment center could mean new jobs in Willmar, it's not known if the streamlined system will in turn mean job losses in the state's 87 counties.

Photo/Art Notes: with pic of area under remodeling

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750