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Kane to join state program to collect unpaid bills

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County’s government soon could obtain a new tool to help the county collect some of the unpaid money it is owed. 

Tuesday, the Kane County Board was poised to approve an agreement with the Illinois Comptroller’s Office, giving the county access to the state’s local debt recovery program.

The agreement to join had breezed through various County Board committees and was on the agenda for a vote at today’s County Board meeting.

Under the program, unpaid county taxes and fees can be collected by the state comptroller’s office on behalf of the county.

The unpaid debts would be confiscated by the state from various state payments, including income tax refunds and lottery winnings, among others, normally paid to individuals.

The money then is routed to the county government.

Kane County officials, including Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, have lauded the program’s potential.

The county has not firmly estimated how much it might collect.

But Lauzen has said the county potentially could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars it is not collecting now.

Lauzen has noted that the program could prove beneficial for certain county departments and offices, including the Kane County Animal Control Department, which has launched a renewed effort in recent months to collect unpaid registration fees from dog owners in the county.

Lauzen has said Animal Control must collect about $70,000 a month to meet its annual budget and avoid needing payments from elsewhere in the county’s budget to pay expenses, including a $93,000 annual debt service payment for its Animal Control facility.

Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hartwell said the program also could benefit his office.

He said increasing collection of unpaid fees and other debts owed to his office has been “a top priority” since he took office about six months ago.

Hartwell said his office already has partnered with private debt collection companies, and he said the county’s participation in the state program would support his efforts.

He estimated as much as $1 million in revenue could be collected this year for the circuit clerk’s office through the various steps to collect unpaid debts.

“We’re still working on the numbers, but we believe it is a significant number,” Hartwell said. 

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