Collection agency Capital Recovery Systems has collected $79,868 in unpaid parking fines in Bloomington, Ind. so far this year, according to city officials.

That's up from $54,412 in the first seven months of last year, when Bloomington's legal department filed claims with Monroe County (Ind.) Circuit Court.

The city receives the amount of the fine and Columbus, Ohio-based agency charges the violators a fee equal to 30% of the fine. That amount is typically less than the $115 in court costs residents would pay if the city filed a claim in court.

The agreement with Capital Recovery allows the city to pursue an unlimited number of unpaid, at least 30 days late, parking tickets. Under the old system, the city could file court claims against up to 50 individuals per week, a time-consuming process. hearings for violators often were scheduled two to three months after claims were filed because of the court's schedule.

City officials reportedly were seeking a contract with a collections agency for five years but had struggled with finding a company that would agree to certain conditions, including willing to work out payment plans with violators and agreeing to not make harassing calls to workplaces.

Bloomington is located 45 miles south of Indianapolis and is where Indiana University is located.

Anecdotal evidence across the U.S. suggests more municipal governments are entering into contracts with collection agencies. In just one recent example, Tinley Park, Ill. earlier this month announced it is reviewing a contract with a new agency to chase overdue parking fines and other fees.

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