City officials in Tuscaloosa, Ala. are reviewing whether to hire an outside debt collection agency to pursue outstanding parking ticket fines and penalties from stop light violations.

Municipal Collections of America (MCA), based in Lansing, Ill., collects fines and penalties for 75 municipalities and local governments across the U.S. The proposal under consideration in Tuscaloosa singled out the agency over six other collection firms that submitted bid packages.

MCA was chosen because it met the city’s seven criteria in a request for proposals - including stipulations such as a willingness for the chosen company to charge the city no fees unless past due bills were paid. MCA also has a working relationship with Gatso USA Inc., which Tuscaloosa contracted with in January 2012 to install and operate its red-light camera system.

Tuscaloosa's Office of the City Attorney did not have immediate access to the amount of unpaid parking tickets and the Tuscaloosa Police Department did not have a total of unpaid red-light citations.

It was also unclear at press time exactly when the city would make a final decision on using MCA.

Tuscaloosa ended a contract with Birmingham, Ala.-based collection agency AmSher, which had been hired to help collect about $1.27 million in billings for the Water and Sewer Department and mitigate an estimated $400,000 in bad debt written off each year for unpaid water and sewer bills.

After six months, Tuscaloosa officials said, AmSher had collected approximately $12,000, or 1% of the outstanding debt and short of the 27% success rate it had with the city of Birmingham.

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