East Greenwich Township in New Jersey, with more than $100,000 of outstanding municipal court fines, hopes to join the ranks of municipalities using third-party collection agencies to help recoup the delinquencies.
Court revenue has fallen steadily in the past five years, according to township officials, and in an effort to collect all outstanding debts, the township will review hiring an outside organization. East Greenwich first began looking into the idea of using collection agencies last year. It's been legal in the state since January 2010.
The Administrative Office of the New Jersey Courts released in March 2011 the procedures for the private collection of municipal court debt, which state any town must receive approval from the state before entering into a contract with a private firm. Also, all fees must be outstanding for a minimum of one year and all other remedies, such as the defendants vehicle registration and drivers license being suspended and arrest warrants, have been exhausted.
If East Greenwich approves the plan and a collection agency is hired, the firm will keep a percentage of each debt collected and the remainder will go back to the township.