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Sheriff asks for higher fees for serving papers

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is proposing raising the fees it charges for paper service and reallocating the fees it collects for foreclosure procedures.

"All we did is we upped our fees to match everybody around us," said Sheriff Nancy Hove.

She said the department has been collecting about $35,000 a year to serve legal notices on people involved in civil or divorce proceedings. The fee increase will mean an extra $5,000 to $7,000 a year, said Hove.

The department is asking to raise the service charge from $26 to $30 for the first attempt and from $13 to $20 per attempt for a maximum of three attempts if the person can't be served on the first try. The department has already been charging mileage for the first attempt and will begin charging mileage for second and third attempts. The mileage rate will also be increased from 29 cents a mile to the state rate, which is currently 42 cents a mile.

Hove is also asking to increase the charge for posting foreclosure sale notices from $75 to $100 per notice. The charge for actually conducting the sheriff's sale would be reduced from $75 to $50.

Hove said the state limits the total charge for posting and conducting a foreclosure sale to $150, so the county can charge no more than that. But, she said, it takes more time to post the notices, which go up in three to six places in the county, than it does to conduct the courthouse-steps auctions. Also, she said, sometimes sales are posted, but resolved before auction.

The foreclosure fees are charged to the bank or financial institution doing the foreclosing.

Sheriff's auction sales, when they are needed, are held at 9 a.m. Tuesdays. Hove said she has been averaging over three a week.

The fee proposal, which must be approved by the county board, has already been endorsed by the county's Law Enforcement Committee.