The City of Alton is considering the idea of partnering with a new program in Illinois to recover the money owed from unpaid bills, liens and fines. The Local Debt Recovery Program would allow the city to collect any debts owed within the last seven years. If put in place, residents who owe the city would have the debt plus a $15 administrative fee deducted from any state-issued check, tax refund, commercial payment, lottery winnings, unclaimed property or property checks.
Once the money is collected, it is temporarily deposited into State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's Local Debt Recovery Trust Fund. The debtor will then be given a written notification and 60 days to appeal the decision by writing a letter to the Illinois Office of the Comptroller. If no appeal is made, the funds are then released to the city.
Claims must be more than $50 and can only be charged on funds the comptroller is currently holding. Anticipated money can not be collected. A bulk of the expected collections would come from unpaid parking tickets. Sewer bills, building and zoning fines, dog licenses and other fines are also have the potential to put large amounts of money into the city's coffers.
Similar programs already in exist in Springfield and Collinsville. Officials in Collinsville say they have collected more than $5,000 through this program since February.
Alton Comptroller Stephanie Elliott hopes to have this system in place when tax season rolls around in early 2013.