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Council changes course on bad check policy

The Wadena City Council passed a motion to rescind a proposed fee to prosecute bad checks and instead go with a diversion program.

The council also passed a motion to adopt a list of bad check write-offs in connection with the municipal liquor store and the golf course.

Charging a fee to deal with bad checks may be an illegal prosecution cost, city attorney Jeff Pederson said at the Dec. 14 meeting.

"There is a private company that authors what is a statutorily authorized diversion program," Pederson said. "There are a number of cities in the area that use it."

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said that a diversion program works well with first-time offenders, and the city deals with many repeat offenders.

"As far as the merchants are concerned, it's a theft," Pederson said.

Council member Kay Browne said there are about 100 bad checks a year, and Uselman said the grocery store gets about 20 of them. Council member Don Niles said the municipal liquor store also gets about 20 bad checks.