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20110916_HidalgoCountySealEDINBURG — Hidalgo County officials said their campaign to collect on over $30 million in overdue fines and fees in the justices of the peace department is off to a good start, collecting over $8,000 in its first few days.

Operation Clean Slate started late last week, offering individuals a chance to pay up before they’re unable to renew their vehicle registration or driver’s licenses and met by a third-party collector.

County officials said 46 people had visited their website to determine whether they had any outstanding fines due. As of Tuesday, $8,396.50 in fines had been collected.

In the coming weeks, the county will pay to run television advertisements for the campaign during news broadcasts, said Karina Cardoza, the county’s spokesperson. Commercials will cost the county about $500; public service announcements run during late and early morning hours when viewership is low, she explained.

The campaign will run for 60 days before people aren’t allowed to renew their driver’s licenses or vehicle registration.

The online, searchable database contains delinquent files for the last 10 years, up until April. It’ll be approximately six months before the county reengages a contracted law firm to collect the remaining funds from delinquent payees, county staff said.

Along with checking statuses online, individuals have also been calling and visiting local JP offices to determine what they owe and establish a payment schedule. Over 80 people have called to see if they owe the county money.

While online individuals must pay in full with a credit card, Cardoza said payment arrangements could be made. Residents could visit any JP office in the county to pay or check their status.

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