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City begins measures to collect delinquent debt

November 30, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

The City Clerk's Office is preparing to send its annual offset to the state, meaning that anyone with outstanding debt with the city could face state action to recover the delinquent money.

December marks the beginning of the offset for 2013. Anyone owing money to the city needs to have submitted the payment by Dec. 10.

"Once they are in that file, once it goes to the state, it is really hard to get it off," said Shari Coughenour, city clerk.

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The city is preparing to send off its delinquent debt to the state. More than 300 people owe the city money for unpaid parking tickets, shown here Thursday afternoon. The deadline for paying the debt is Dec. 10.

Failure to pay will likely result in any number of state garnishments, including taking the money from income tax returns, which could delay the return up to 90 days, garnishing lottery winnings and, because of a 28e agreement with the Marshall County Treasurer, even a freeze on plate renewal.

Those with the debt also absorb $22 in processing fees just for having it sent to the state.

Typically, people owe money for things such as parking tickets, homeowner's gas or electrical permits not paid, costs incurred for Animal Rescue League housing due to animals at large, or money owed because of reimbursements for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development rental assistance program.

Coughenour said the city does not want to send the collection to the state. It's the last step prior to pursing collection in small claims court.

"It's a last-ditch effort to get the money for the city," she said.

Last year, the city sent $336,585 to the state, according to records. A large chunk of those filings is parking tickets: $119,862.

This year, as of Oct. 31, the outstanding balance of parking tickets totaled $105,000. As of August 30, the city identified 355 people owing $39,985 and received $21,411, according to records.

The city typically receives between $18,000 and $22,000 in delinquent debt.

Coughenour said tickets must be at least 60 days old before the city will send them to the state, but if a driver has a previously delinquent ticket that is more than 60 days old, the city simply sends the entire case up, including tickets less than 60 days old.

Anyone with any questions as to what they owe the city can call the City Clerk's Office at 641-754-5700.



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