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New state program helps La Grange Park nab parking violators

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:13 p.m. CDT

LA GRANGE PARK – The village’s participation in a new state debt recovery program is making it more difficult to get away with unpaid parking fines.

Since becoming one of the first municipalities to enroll in the Local Debt Recovery Program in April, La Grange Park has received $1,743 in recovered money from unpaid parking tickets.

The village hopes to really cash in next year during tax season, when the Illinois Comptroller’s Office, which runs the program, can withhold portions of state income tax returns from violators with outstanding fines.

"The success of the program hinges on whether the individuals who are in our [database] … are also folks that owe the state money,” Village Manager Julia Cedillo said. “The most successful time for collecting this is when the state income taxes are filed.”

On April 19, the village sent records for more than 3,000 citations to the comptroller’s office, which found 1,083 matches in its records. The office first notifies violators of their unpaid tickets. If no protest has been filed within 60 days, it can block money that would normally be paid to violators through state income tax refunds, lottery payouts and state paychecks – and then send it to local governments.

Participation in the program is free to the village, other than administrative costs for maintaining a database of ticket violators. The recovered money goes into the village’s general fund.

Currently, the village recovers only unpaid parking-related fines, but Cedillo said the program could expand to collect other unpaid fines. Other types of debt eligible for recovery, as listed on the comptroller’s website, include water and sewer bills, traffic fines and ordinance fines and fees.

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