Officials in Elmhurst, Ill., a Chicago suburb, are looking at hiring a new collection agency to pursue overdue parking tickets and other delinquencies. 

Municipal Collection Services, based in Palos Heights, Ill., was one of five companies responding to a city request for proposals. Elmhurst finance committee members this week recommended City Council approval of the hiring to replace current vendor, Penn Credit Corp.

Chris Johnson, Elmhurst's billing and collections manager, said Municipal Collection Services was chosen because the agency has more than 70 local municipalities as clients in the area. Those towns, he said, spoke favorably about the firm.

The dollar amount turned over for collection is about $200,000 in an average year and comes mostly from overdue parking tickets and vehicle stickers, Johnson said.

The expected four-year contract with Municipal Collection Services likely will go before council for a vote within a month. It calls for the agency to receive 25% of whatever it collects in the first two years, then 28% of collections in years three and four. 

Johnson noted that Municipal Collection Services has experience with the State of Illinois Local Debt Recovery Program under which certain debts, including overdue parking tickets, can be deducted from state payments to debtors. The payments could be income tax refunds, lottery winnings, state paychecks or for vendor services. While Elmhurst doesn't yet participate in that program, it could be an option in the future.

Johnson told Elmhurst committee members that with fines and late charges, one parking ticket can rise to $150. The city counts the ticket itself as the first notice, then sends four more notices before the overdue bill is turned over for collection, typically 90 days later.

 

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