A Chicago suburb is reviewing whether to approve a contract with collection agency ICS to collect overdue parking tickets and other fines.

Tinley Park, Ill., owed an estimated $225,000, has had a collections contract with agency MCA, of Lansing, Ill., since 1993, calling for a 50/50 split of recoveries. The new contract under review would allow the village to keep 77% of outsourced collections, with the remaining 23% going to Tinley Park, Ill.-based ICS. Tinley Park collects approximately 93% of outstanding fines on its own and farms out the remaining 7%.

The full Village Board will review the proposed contact with ICS later this month. ICS also would create online accessible features both to allow village staff to better track payments and give consumers the ability to pay online, according to Patricia Leoni, trustee and chair of Tinley Park's Budget, Audit and Administration Committee.  

To further improve collections, the village plans to partner with the Illinois comptroller's office as part of a new Local Debt Recovery Program that allows the office to subtract municipal debts from state payments such as tax returns and lottery winnings.  

In nearby Orland Park, Ill., a similar agreement was approved last month with the state comptroller's office to help collect outstanding debts. In Illinois, Joliet was among the first municipalities to sign up for the state program after it took effect late last year.

Under the debt recovery program, someone with outstanding parking tickets will have the amount they owe, plus an administrative fee, deducted from their state income tax refund by the comptroller's office.

Anecdotal evidence suggest municipalities are more often turning to collection agencies to pursue outstanding fines, which include overdue parking fees, court-related costs and unpaid water and sewer bills. Many large U.S. cities, meanwhile, have kept the work in-house despite exorbitant outstanding bills, including $80 million residents owe to the city of Houston.

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