Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced late last week that nearly $2 million has been returned to local governments through his Local Government Collection Services Program.

The program, which went statewide last year, allows local governments to enter into agreements with the Attorney General's office to collect unpaid debt on their behalf.

The AG's office currently has agreements to collect debt on behalf of 34 local government entities. To date, the program has returned $1,927,228 to local governments.

The Ohio Attorney General's Collection Enforcement Section serves as the chief collection agent for all state agencies, boards, commissions and universities. The Local Government Collection Services Program began as a pilot between DeWine's Office and the Lucas County Clerk of Courts in 2008, and DeWine expanded the program statewide in 2012.

"The economic downturn we all experienced in recent years put a strain on many local budgets," DeWine said. "Offering the infrastructure of the Attorney General's office to help return money owed to local governments only makes sense, and I am pleased to offer this service to communities across Ohio."

The program was designed to help local governments offset a debtor's state tax refund, lottery winnings or casino winnings to recover the debts. Because the program is funded by collection costs passed to the debtor, the program bears no additional cost to local governments.

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