City Adding New Tool To Collect Unpaid Parking Tickets, Red Light Camera Tickets
Suburban Drivers May Feel Impact The Most
So don’t be surprised if your refund check from the State of Illinois is a little less than you originally expected if the City of Chicago gets its way.
Up until now, the City of Chicago had only a few ways to collect money from unpaid parking tickets and red light camera tickets. For larger ticket debts, lawsuits have been commonly employed. Collection agencies are also an avenue for the city. Of course, there’s always the dreaded bright yellow Denver boot.
But back in December, the Local Debt Recovery Program became law in Illinois. The program allows municipalities to have the Illinois State Comptroller withhold state tax refunds from people who owe cities for unpaid parking tickets, red light camera tickets, water bills and the like and hand it over to them to pay off outstanding debt.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Budget Committee today approved the ordinance so it will go before the full City Council tomorrow.
The law allows for Chicago to collect this type of outstanding debt back to 2005. According to Department of Finance spokesperson Holly Stutz, Chicago is owed close to $80 million dollars in these type of unpaid debts from over 100,000 individuals or businesses.
Although the City Comptroller’s office estimates they may only be able to recover $8-$20 million using this collection tool.
“The problem is that its hard to tell how much of our files match with the state’s,” explains Stutz.
In addition, the city may only be able to collect a portion of what someone owes. For example, if an individual owes the city $1000 for parking tickets but is only expecting a $100 tax refund, the city would only be able to collect that $100.
While the new law will obviously impact Chicago drivers, perhaps it is drivers residing outside the city that may feel the law the most. Motorists with unpaid tickets on vehicles registered outside the city who don’t come to the city very often, have essentially been moving targets for city boot vans. Now, even though boot vans couldn’t reach them before, now the tax man can.
While the program only became law on December 16th, the city is trying to move fast enough to take advantage of this upcoming tax season. However, Stutz did not know for sure, even if the ordinance passed in the City Council tomorrow, if the city would be able to move ahead by April 15th.
It is also unknown if debtors would be informed in advance of the funds transfer or if there is a way for someone to contest or protest what they believe to their funds should not have been collected on behalf of the city.
Whatever the case, if the ordinance passes, Chicago will now have a new and powerful tool in their struggle to collect unpaid parking tickets, red light tickets and other unpaid debts.