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Fees increasing for filing civil, family court documents in Westmoreland County

Rich Cholodofsky
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The sun sets behind the Westmoreland County courthouse dome Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Greensburg.

Fees to file civil and family court documents in Westmoreland County will increase beginning Friday.

The move will raise about $30,000 in new revenues for the county, Prothonotary Christina O’Brien said. The money is expected to balance her department’s budget and cover rising personnel and equipment costs.

“We have to make sure our expenses match our revenues. We have to make sure we remain a cost-neutral office and don’t cost taxpayers money,” O’Brien said.

State laws allow counties to increase court filing fees every three years. Filing fees for documents filed in the prothonotary’s office have not been increased since 2015, O’Brien said. Complaints and secondary filings in civil cases, along with mental health commitments, divorces and custody documents will all be impacted by increases that will average 3.2 percent, officials said.

With the increase, the new fee to file a lawsuit in Westmoreland will be $112. Fees assessed to file documents in the prothonotary’s office last year generated more $926,000 for the county.

Meanwhile, officials said they anticipate even more revenue will be generated this year when a new program is launched that allows civil court documents to be filed electronically.

The e-filing program was originally expected to begin last year but computer programming delays caused it to be pushed back into early 2019, O’Brien said. Officials now say it won’t be until at least April when lawyers will be able to submit court documents through an online portal. Court documents currently can only be filed in person at the courthouse or by mail.

“We’re behind schedule, but we think we’re getting close,” O’Brien said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]