- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Hall County Sheriff Jerry Watson is looking to the Nebraska Legislature to ease the expense of serving civil process papers that cost taxpayers in his county at least $10 for every hand delivery.

The Legislature sets the amount charged to serve papers, and the amount is not keeping up with actual costs, Watson told the Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1L9qrcX ).

Papers served include subpoenas, divorce filings, protection orders and eviction notices.

When Watson was first elected sheriff 16 years ago, uniformed officers served all papers. Now, he said, 90 percent of are delivered by civilians who work for the sheriff’s department, because it costs the county less.

“Why do I want to pay a uniform to go out and be a messenger?” Watson asked.

Deputies still handle protection orders, divorce and other documents that “could be a little bit confrontational,” he said.

Watson said that every paper served in 2012 cost the county $34.55, but the county is only allowed to collect $24.36. That means taxpayers were left to cover the more than $10 difference. In all, he said, serving papers cost taxpayers nearly $97,000 in 2012.

Watson said the loss has likely grown closer $15 per paper served now.

It’s been several years since the Legislature has increased the amount that can be charged to serve papers. Watson believes the amount should be reviewed each year.

He had hoped Nebraska could follow the lead of other states, like Minnesota, that allow county boards to set the fee. But the Nebraska Constitution requires the Legislature to set those fees.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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