Santa Monica, Calif. is expected to join a growing list of cities nationwide that are hiring private collection agencies to pursue delinquent fees, taxes and finds such as parking citations and library fees.

The Santa Monica City Council will vote Tuesday whether to agree to a $200,000 contract for two years with Pennsylvania-based collections giant NCO Financial Systems Inc.

NCO would collect past due permits, utilities and fire inspection costs, as well as overdue police services for special events. It also will go after taxes deposited into the city's general fund, such as business license taxes, according to the Santa Monica Lookout.

One employee in the city's Finance Department currently is in charge of following up on all debts owed to the city, according to local officials. That's not only not enough manpower to collect on the volume of overdue accounts, it's also not the best way to ensure the city is complying with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other various federal and state laws governing collections.

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