RI County Collections Program Proves to be Successful - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

RI County Collections Program Proves to be Successful

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It's been one year since Rock Island County hired a collection agency to crack down on felons with unpaid fines and bring in much needed revenue. In the first month, the program brought in $100,000 and the Rock Island County Circuit Clerk says that trend has continued.

Circuit Clerk Lisa Bierman says on average 2 million dollars in fines are issued every year. She says in 2011, before the collection agency, about $400,000 of that was paid in a 12 month period. However, in 2012, after the program started, $725,000 was paid in just six months. Bierman says the increase in revenue is making a difference.

"Anytime that the local agencies and the county general fund is increased through collection, it does help everybody because that is revenue, that pays to the things we need to do around here."

 Bierman says in times like this, every penny counts. She says thanks to the new collections system there has been a lot more counting to do.

"We have been thrilled. The program has worked great."

She says more people are paying their fines on time or setting up payment plans to avoid going to collections.

"In 2011 within six months 74 percent have paid. In 2012 within six months 96 percent have paid."

She says the new system has not only brought in more money, but it's also helped the courts keep better tabs on people and get them on the right track.

"We want to work with these individuals, our goal is not to take all these accounts and throw them off to collections. Our goal is really to bring these individuals in and work with them through a payment plan and get these things paid."

She says while many people are choosing to come forward instead of go to collections, the county recently signed up for a new program through the comptrollers office that will help them collect money from those who still have not paid.

"We will forward any of our accounts that have gone onto collections to them and if those individuals have a tax refund then they will pull that tax refund to go to a portion of what is due to us."

A 30 percent fee is added to any unpaid fines that go to the collections agency. That's how the collections agency makes its money. In 2012 the agency made about $37,000 in six months.