According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a proposal advanced by the Chicago City Council would help the city collect outstanding debts from parking tickets and other citations owed by residents and businesses. The proposal specifically seeks to tap into debtors' state income tax refunds, a method the Illinois General Assembly has authorized. If the outstanding fines exceed the tax refunds, Chicago would have five years to tap into the annual refunds to claim the outstanding debts.
If the city moves through with the plan, it could receive $8 million to $20 million. Similarly, it would only target businesses and individuals who have repeatedly received warnings and notices. Here are some facts on how Chicago is tacking the issue of debts owed to it:
* When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was inaugurated in May, approximately $1 billion in fines, fees and other bills were still owed to the city, according to Medill Reports.
* The mayor's efforts to help close Chicago's large budget specifically included cracking down on remaining debts for various violations or services provided by the city.
* In October, Mayor Emanuel announced a new approach to improve debt collections, especially millions of dollars from unpaid fees, unpaid parking tickets and other fines, all of which would help the city reclaim $33 million in 2012.
* The new approach includes increasing efficiency by putting billing and collection in the hands of the Department of Revenue and also compiling the different fines and fees owed by a specific individual or business.
* The Huffington Post also noted the neighboring suburbs of Harvey, Robbins, Dolon and Maywood cumulatively owe Chicago $15 million in overdue water bills, another collection effort being pushed by the city.
* To get back the $15 million, the city helped create a payment plan for the four suburbs that seeks to have two-thirds of the money paid back by the beginning of 2013.
* Mayor Emanuel announced that as of December, the city was ahead of schedule in terms of collecting debts owed by banks, which totaled more than $5.5 million, reported WLS.
* From May to December, Chicago was able to whittle the money owed by banks from $5.5 million to $1 million.
* City employees have been targeted to repay the city $3 million for everything from their unpaid parking tickets to water bills or otherwise face a long suspension or possibly termination, according to another Chicago Sun-Times article.
* The mayor specifically sent letters to department heads to help collect debt from city employees and emphasized that Chicago employees could not abuse taxpayer money.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.