What took the city so long to collect?

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monday, the city of Vicksburg took a step that unfortunately appears to be a long time coming.

In an effort to collect millions in unpaid fines, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a partnership with Municipal Intercept Co. LLC. The agreement will allow Municipal Intercept to work on the city’s behalf with the Mississippi Department of Revenue to put a lien on an individual’s state tax refund if they owe the city money.

While we sit here today and applaud the city for taking this step to get what it is owed, we are asking a serious question. What took so long?

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As of Monday, the city showed that just over $4 million in fines was owed. The exact amount as of Monday was $4,068,883.79.

To place that amount of money to scale, the $4 million is roughly the same amount budgeted for the entire city’s public works department and nearly $2 million more than budgeted this year for the city’s parks and recreation department. That amount of money would have also paid for about eight splash pads.

This administration has been amazingly frugal in its budgeting and its search for governmental efficiencies.

This administration also has a strong track record of partnering with other organizations to seek out and find delinquent or missing utility customers and find losses in its natural gas service.

If the city compiles a report each year for the amount of money owed, then why has there not been a plan in place to collect these monies sooner?

We understand there will always be those who try to skip out on a bill and avoid paying a fine. But for millions to have built up over time is troubling.

The mayor and aldermen made the right decision in seeking a vendor to help and in tying the fines owed to tax refunds from the state.

It is our hope this partnership will help to quickly correct a problem that has been building for a long time.