Grand American Resources Inc., a Grand Marais, Minn.-based collection agency, will collect unpaid fees from former inmates of the Houston County (Minn.) jail under a one-year contract approved by county commissioners.

The county's Human Services Department had tried to collect from the former inmates a year ago, collecting an estimated $3,000. Previous efforts, however, had brought in up to $30,000 a year, according to Houston County Jail Administrator Mark Schiltz.

The county imposes a $20-per-day fee on inmates to pay for a portion of their term. Inmates also are charged for some medical care and booking fees. Two-thirds of former inmates pay their fees, mostly through wage garnishment, according to Schiltz, while the remainder try to skip out on their obligations.

Commission rates will depend on the type of collection. Under the terms of the contract, the company will receive 8% for a billing, 20% for a successful "collection," and more for legal action.

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