Why Has Your Municipality, Plenty of Money in Plain Sight,
Yet Not Collected?
By Nick Ashton, Founder, Tracometry
What is the point of charging fines, imposing financial penalties and property seizures and never really attempting to collect what is rightfully owed to the citizenry? After all, it is “of the people”, is it not?
Policy review shows the exposure of this under-collection phenomenon is sparking political and citizen controversy. Government agencies are failing to collect billions and billions of dollars in civil and criminal fines—even when the offenders possess the means to pay. Parking and booting fines alone are in the millions of dollars!
During a recession in which governments (local, state and federal), are slashing budgets, cutting back public services, and laying off workers, they are at the same time neglecting to recover huge sums from street level parking/booting fines, code enforcement housing/building fines, health violation infractions, corporations and executives that have actually been found to have engaged in various wrongdoing.
Particularly in such an economic stagnant environment, one would expect a groundswell of support to push all agencies to improve their fine collection rates. Nevertheless, neither the public, press, nor political branches has said much about this major financial problem, let alone sought explanations for why it is occurring nationwide.
The modern administrative state includes thousands of different agencies, administrative bodies, and executive entities at the federal, state and local levels. These bodies regulate practically every imaginable industry and subject matter. Agencies enforce statutes, rules, and regulations through a variety of means, but imposition of monetary sanctions (including fixed or variable fines and penalties, and restitution) is the primary enforcement tool.
Administrative fines may be imposed in both the civil and criminal contexts. Virtually every major administrative regulatory program contains some type of monetary sanction. Sometimes, fines are the only available sanction.
This story shows us exactly what we are speaking of:
“When you get a speeding ticket, you get a fine or go to court to dispute the ticket.
Topeka Municipal Court Judge Vic Miller said speeding ticket fines are paid rather quickly. However, when it comes to misdemeanor charges like drug- or alcohol-related crimes, many times those fines are not paid. Over the years, those unpaid fines have accumulated to $12,619,265.37.
“Our expectation is that 100 percent of the fines and fees we levy will be paid 100 percent by 100 percent of the people. That’s our attitude,” Miller said. “Reality tells us that’s not going to occur. But that’s our mission — to do what we can as close as we can to that 100 percent.”
However, Miller says that is never going to happen and cites an example.
“There is an $800 mandatory fine for your second offense for driving without insurance,” he said. “You didn’t have any money to begin with or you would have had insurance on the car. So when I give you the $800 fine and the $149 cost, that’s $1,000 I’m likely not going to see for some time, if ever, because the person I’m looking at just plain doesn’t have it."
Miller had story after story on why those convicted could not pay their fines. Many are in jail, so they have no way to pay the fines. Others, who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, continue to be arrested, and their fines continue to climb. He gave an example of an individual who has more than $5,000 in fines who is almost in his court weekly, when not in jail.
While Miller wants to see these individuals get help, he said there is nothing he can do.
“I can’t make them have treatment," he said. "In many cases, treatment is not available.”
The municipal court has switched collection agencies to try to regain some of the unpaid funds. Miller said the new agency, as well as the courts, are going to be more aggressive in collections. He also said they are working with those who have fines to develop payment programs or settlements.”
Citizens are demanding the same level of municipal services and city councils always look toward tax increases and at the monies lying on the streets, so to speak. Collections are the answer, it is money already adjudicated, with documented information on all who owe these monies. It is the ability to be able to collect in a forthright professional manner with proven methods in these economic times.
recoupeit, has the ability to make this happen! Why can we achieve this set of financial goals of collections and municipalities and states have failed?
America is less and less independently in control of its economy and just this simple collection problem highlights this issue. It is not the time to reflect, dissect or form massive hearings and committees on the situation; it is time to take action with resolve and the proven solution and improve the cash flow back to the citizens, which they are owed and demand.
A new approach is required, credit score threats do not work and standardized attempts prove ineffective. We have received or heard of the collection agencies phone calls, how it sounds like a person reading a script or selling you a “time share” opportunity. This is an old ineffective approach and removed from the reality of the situation. In some cases, genuinely, you cannot get blood from a stone, so other methods must be enacted for success.
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Debt is the fatal disease of republics, the first thing and the mightiest to undermine governments and corrupt the people
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