$1 million-plus already owed to city in unpaid parking tickets
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter November 4, 2013 4:12PM
Those who don't pay parking tickets in Elgin, like the one above being issued by Parking Control Officer Jon Lunsford in 2011, could find a new, more agressive collection firm coming after them. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: December 6, 2013 6:15AM
ELGIN — The city council on Wednesday will consider switching vendors used to collect fines owed by scofflaws, and will look into raising late fees to encourage prompt payment of fines that are issued.
The reason for the change: According to supporting material for the council’s committee of the whole meeting, the current collection firm, Capital Recovery Systems, has been recovering just 6.27 percent of unpaid parking tickets.
The material notes that Elgin began its administrative adjudication process in late 2009 for parking, city ordinance and certain code violations. The process bypasses the county court system, allowing the city to have direct control over the process and receive 100 percent of all revenue derived from fines.
In 2011, the city contracted with Capital Recovery Systems Inc. to collect unpaid parking fines. According to material for the meeting, the company told city staff it expected to have a collection rate of 35.7 percent — or more than five times higher than what a review by the police and fire departments determined.
According to the supporting material, Elgin has more than $1,150,000 in unpaid parking tickets and more than $717,000 in unpaid city ordinance violations.
The council will consider using Municipal Collections of America instead.
“MCA’s recovery fee is higher than Capital’s at 30 percent of any recovery, but this additional cost will be offset by a collection rate that is expected to be markedly higher than Capital’s,” the supporting material states.
MCA also has worked with municipalities to combine data and tow vehicles that meet requirements for the cooperating agencies. The material notes, “For example, if Elgin had a vehicle with two unpaid parking citations and a neighboring community had the same vehicle with one unpaid parking citation, either community would be able to tow and impound the vehicle until payment is made.”
Along with the switching collection agencies, the council also will look at increasing the amount owed on unpaid fines. Standard parking citations increase from $25 to $30 after 21 days, to $55 after 42 days, and to $80 after 63 days without payment. The proposal would increase the fine for tickets unpaid after 42 days to $80 and after 63 days to $250. And the city’s collection costs would be passed on to the violator.
Further, what is being proposed Wednesday would allow the police department to impound vehicles owned by persons with three or more unpaid parking citations.
“There are currently over 494 individuals with three or more unpaid parking citations amounting to over $118,560 in unpaid fines,” the material states. “The proposed ordinance change would allow the police department to tow and impound these vehicles until payment is made.”