Fort Collins refuses to accept student’s change for ticket payment

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A college student says he was short changed by the city of Fort Collins after it refused to accept his payment for a speeding ticket. The problem? He tried to pay the $160 fine with a bucket full of coins.

Ted Nischan says, “Money is money. They should definitely take the change.”

Nischan had just two days to pay the ticket before the court would suspend his license, so he first tried to pay with a credit card, but the machine at the Municipal Court wasn’t working. Strapped for cash, Nischan had no other option, so the next day he decided to use his “savings,” a nearly 50 pound bucket of loose change.

He went to a coin cashing machine, but it would have taken a percentage. He then went to his bank which confirmed his bucket added up to $160. It then told him it needed to be sent to Denver to be cashed, and that would take a week.  Nischan didn’t have a week.  “I would have had a suspended license.”

So, just 24 hours from his court date, he decided to try his chances with the city. “We called before, and they said they’ll take legal tender…that’s what this is.”

But when Nischan showed up, and hoisted his savings onto the counter, he was told it would be a waste of taxpayer money to count his change. “It’s a large amount of coin,” says city spokeswoman Kim Newcomer.  “We would have to count that by hand not once, but twice, to make sure we had the right amount there.”

Nischan returned home defeated, and the night before his court date he called a local newspaper for help. That’s when he found out he could have taken his change to the Fort Collins Parking Services office located just across the hall from the Municipal Court. The Office has a coin counting machine inside, and would have cashed his savings. Nischan says, nobody told him that was a possibility.

By then it was too late. He was forced to pay his fine online with his financial aid money. Looking back, Nischan says he probably shouldn’t have waited until the last minute to pay his ticket, but still, “It’s the principle. I had the money. I’m trying to pay it.”

Meantime, because of the loose change incident the Municipal Court will now work more closely with Parking Services in case another resident tries to pay with pounds of pocket change.

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