One week after the city of Peoria, Ill. issued an edict that $1.8 million in delinquent parking fines were being sent to a state-run collections program, city officials are reporting strong early returns.
Totals collected thus far weren’t available but Patrick Nichting, the city’s treasurer, said the announcement that people with overdue tickets could see their state tax refunds and other payments garnished has encouraged people to call and walk-in to make payment arrangements. Many people also contacted the city’s local collection agency, B-D Lawyers Group, to work out payment plans.
Nichting said the city launched the ramped up collections effort largely because the burden of unpaid tickets continues to pose problems for the already lean city budget. He urged people to continue contacting the city or B-D Lawyers Group rather than waiting until the state garnishes the funds through the Local Debt Recovery Program - and tacks on a $20 fee for doing so.
A full list of people who owed the city for parking fines as of Nov. 17 was sent to the Peoria Journal Star under a Freedom of Information Act request. The largest amount owed by any individual was $5,327 through 63 outstanding tickets dating to 2008.
The state of Illinois operates a garnishment program that withholds fines owed to municipalities through income tax refunds, state lottery winnings and state payroll checks. The program started in 2011 but Peoria only recently arranged to participate in it.