City, county are right in getting aggressive on collecting what is owed

Published 7:10 pm Monday, January 13, 2020

It is not often both the Board of Mayor and Alderman and the Warren County Board of Supervisors share a common problem.

Yes, there are the issues both faced with the Baxter Wilson tax snafu that forced both governmental bodies to make significant changes to their budgets, but both often operate on a different schedule, with different rules.

But, they both today find themselves in a situation where they both have a collection problem.

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On the city’s side, they face a dilemma of how to best collect more than $4 million in unpaid fines owed to the city’s police department and municipal courts. On the county’s side, they are facing a challenge of how to collect more than $1.3 million in unpaid garbage fees.

While the city and the county operate by different financial rules, with the county’s budget significantly restricted by state guidelines and statutes and the city budget based on more of a discretionary basis, neither can afford to go without money that is owned.

In the case of the county, the taxpayers are the ones who feel the pinch as the county is required to pay the delinquent garbage fees to Waste Management when citizens don’t. That is money lost that could be best be spent and invested in county programs, departments and needs.

For the city, the more than $4 million in unpaid fines is equal to the budget for the city’s police department. It is a lot of money that is both owed, needed and could be well-invested in multiple city needs, including our first responders.

The city has taken a huge step in its collection efforts by going after those individuals with the largest outstanding fines, using a program to tie the fines to the individual’s state income tax refunds. In the county’s case, they are considering not only partnering with a new collection agency but are considering moving back to a process by which a person’s outstanding garbage fees are tied to renewing their car tags.

In both cases, the elected leaders are being aggressive and rightfully so. This is money that is owed and needed.

The fines are owed and the garbage fees are owed; there is no disputing the validity of either. A normal business would not let such debts go uncollected and neither should our government agencies.

We applaud the efforts of both the Warren County Board of Supervisors and the Board of Mayor and Alderman for getting aggressive and going after what is owed.