CLARENDON HILLS – Eventually, nearly every driver will return to his or her car to find that orange piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper, then look in sinking frustration at the blinking expired time on the nearby parking meter.
As common as receiving a parking ticket is, residents are also forgetting to pay the incurred fines with a similar regularity, according to the Carendon Hills Police Department.
Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins said that “several thousands of dollars” in unpaid parking tickets is currently owed to the village and, until now, the village had no way to enforce payment or collect the debts.
“A lot of times when we send out notices people just don’t know they had a ticket or they suddenly remember they had one,” Jenkins said. “There’s a lot of reasons why tickets don’t get paid, it’s not always because the person is ignoring it or avoiding it.”
In order to recoup unpaid parking citations and other outstanding fines, the Village of Clarendon Hills and the Illinois comptroller’s office have signed an intergovernmental agreement and will soon implement the Local Debt Recovery Program.
“If a unit of government… it can be anybody, a park district, a school district, a local government; if they’re owed money they can get into this program,” Jenkins said.
Once a unit of government enters into the Local Debt Recovery Program with the Illinois comptroller’s office, the money owed can be siphoned from debtor’s tax returns or lottery winnings. If the person in question is employed by the state, the money can be from a pay check, Jenkins said.
Jenkins said that in order for a unit of government to collect on outstanding fees, the fines have to be greater than $10, more than 120 days old, but less than seven years old.
“[Government units] submit this debt to the comptroller’s office, and then there’s checks and balances to make sure that these are valid debts,” he said. “They also can’t be in litigation, so there can’t be a lawsuit involved with them.”
The debtor is also charged an additional $20 fee, which comptroller’s office uses to fund and maintain the program.
Jenkins said that once enrolled in the program, it’s hard to say how much revenue would be coming back to the village because the money comes out of various forms.
“I’m sure that we will see some debt recovery, but I really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “If a person owes us for say 10 parking tickets, that’s a few hundred bucks.”