Local governments in Illinois are stepping up their efforts to collect unpaid fines.
LaSalle County officials say the local court system is owed millions of dollars in overdue fines that date back several years. County Board member, Bob Vickrey, says that has prompted them to explore the possibility of starting up a pilot program that would select people at random. Initially, local attorneys would be hired to collect the money. The reigns would eventually be turned over to a recovery service, if the effort is successful. But, Vickrey says they're proceeding with caution, to ensure that people aren't getting hounded for money already paid.
"Let's say there's someone on our books showing 300 dollars they owe us, and we turn it over to the collection agency, and the collection agency goes out to collect the 300 dollars. But, in case there was an error, and this individual has already paid 200 dollars of that amount, they'll show up to the state's attorney's office waiving receipts."
Winnebago County officials recently dealt with that problem after a new company took over their collection program. Meanwhile, a new Illinois law allows municipalities to ask the state to go after those who have outstanding fines, by dipping into their tax refunds. Chicago and Springfield are moving forward with plans to take advantage of the law.