News Flash


Posted on: February 9, 2023

City of Pueblo Partners with the National League of Cities to Reduce Harmful Effects of Municipal...

PUEBLO—The City of Pueblo is proud to join a new peer-learning cohort led by the National League of Cities’ to reduce the inequitable and harmful impacts of municipal fines and fees on residents’ financial health. The City of Pueblo joins eight other cities across the nation as part of the Cities Addressing Fines and Fees Equitably (CAFFE) initiative.

Participating cities will engage in peer learning opportunities, virtual and in person. In addition, participants will receive tailored technical assistance from NLC staff and national content experts to help advance the city's efforts in expanding economic opportunities for low-to-moderate-income families through policy reforms and access to financial empowerment services.

“This opportunity for the City of Pueblo to participate in the National League of Cities cohort model will be instrumental in our work with Municipal Court and our work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Mayor of Pueblo Nick Gradisar. “This aligns with Judge Sikes work with the restorative justice program and expands our network with the cohort model of training so we can continue to expand how we serve our citizens.”

The City of Pueblo plans to implement strategies to address negative impacts on individuals and families, including making fines and fees structures more equitable and enacting ability-to-pay policies as an alternative solution. Goals for the City of Pueblo’s participation in the CAFFE initiative include program or policy changes that lead to a new collection model for the city, connecting resident in debt with financial empowerment services, increased compliance with court orders for payment and decreasing debt for municipal defendants.

Cities participating in NLC’s CAFFE initiative will also receive grant support to assess and reform inequitable policies in the court system and implement innovative financial empowerment approaches to help residents who are in debt to cities as a result of municipal fines and fees.

Cities will also have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the first cohort of CAFFE cities which began in 2019, and the success of their work to assess and structurally reform how fines and fees impact low-income residents.

City leaders have seen the devastating economic impacts that fines and fees debt can have on low-income residents, particularly residents of color. Excessive fines and aggressive debt collection practices can snowball, often leading to license suspensions, utility cut-offs, and even jail. Individuals at risk of entering the justice system when they are unable to pay criminal justice fines and fees are particularly vulnerable. Many cities have implemented strategies to address these negative impacts, including reforming fines and fee structures and enacting ability-to-pay policies as an alternative solution.

In addition to the City of Pueblo, the seven other cities joining the project include Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; Maywood, Illinois; Montgomery, Alabama; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington, D.C. This cohort program runs from January 2023 through February 2024 and is supported by JPMorgan Chase.

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