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Billing glitch costs county, constable’s office $2 million over 10 years

The Las Vegas constable’s office appears to have collected too little from those it has served court papers against over the past decade, according to Clark County officials.

The law enforcement agency has lost an average of $500 per day, about $2 million in 10 years, because of a computer glitch that miscalculated commission fees used to fund the office and its employees.

It’s unclear how the office plans to recoup the funds, but it was suggested at a county audit committee meeting Monday that the office should go back after under-billed defendants and bill them the correct amount.

The money goes into an enterprise fund, and at times the county transfers some of the money to its general fund for expenses unrelated to the constable’s office. That money is more important these days as the county deals with an economic slump.

Under state law, the constable’s office gets a cut of the fees when serving court papers, among other duties. It is 2 percent for the first $3,500 collected; any sum over that is half a percent. The office’s computer software that calculates the fees is blending the two percentages when the collection is larger than $3,500, which means the constable’s office is being shortchanged.

The error was detailed at the meeting where it was discovered that Constable John Bonaventura’s complaint about the glitch wasn’t the first. His predecessor, former Constable Robert "Bobby G." Gronauer, also complained two years earlier, according to county staff.

But Gronauer told the Review-Journal that he contests the glitch, saying he does not remember making that complaint and adding that he left the office with $7.2 million in the fund.

Bonaventura has ordered his employees to calculate fees manually on a spreadsheet while the computer glitch is worked out in the next six months.

Earlier this year, Bonaventura asked the County Commission to hire more workers to help with the calculations so the office could send the bills. But commissioners delayed the discussion because they were upset over a profanity-laced TV pilot on the constable’s office and instead asked for an audit of the office’s finances.

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