The Stow Municipal Court will begin a new initiative in August to collect unpaid fines and costs and help those owing money avoid being sent to collections.

Stow Municipal Clerk of Court Kevin Coughlin announced in a July 27 news release from the court that Munroe Falls resident Steve Stahl will split duties between the court's community control department and clerk's office. As a deputy clerk, Stahl will oversee the collection of unpaid monies.

Stahl served 28 years in the Munroe Falls Police Department, including 22 years as Chief. He worked for 10 years at the Summit County Juvenile Court and is currently a member of Munroe Falls City Council.

"Defendants have an obligation to pay their fines and costs in full on the day of sentencing," Coughlin said. "Occasionally, they don't. Steve will use the powers of this office and the court to ensure defendants pay and hopefully avoid being sent to collections or incurring other drastic measures."

Defendants that fail to comply with court orders to pay fines and costs are subject to a variety of penalties in Ohio including referral to a collection agency, community service, civil judgements, forfeiture of assets, forfeiture of state income tax returns, driving registration blocks, driver's license forfeiture, and jail (fines only).

"Steve Stahl's involvement with the court's community service program fits well with our collection efforts," Coughlin said. "Having defendants work off their debts to the court is part of his daily work. I expect that will become a greater part of our efforts to settle these unpaid accounts."

Stahl said the tough love approach by the court can helpful to those who owe money.

"We want to exhaust all options before sending someone to collections or bringing the hammer down," Stahl said. "We still send about $1 million per year to collections. This new effort might help some people avoid that spiral, which only compounds their problems."

The Stow Municipal Court serves the communities of Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Tallmadge, Twinsburg, Macedonia, Munroe Falls, Silver Lake, Sagamore Hills, Northfield Village, Northfield Center Township, Twinsburg Township, Reminderville, Peninsula, Boston Heights and Boston Township.