Circuit clerk's office participating in debt recovery program
The Union County circuit clerk’s office has implemented a new program which is helping to collect overdue fines and court costs.
The program also is generating revenue for the county.
The county is participating in the Local Debt Recovery Program, which offers local governments an opportunity to utilize the resources of the Illinois Office of the Comptroller to collect unpaid debt.
The comptroller’s office explains that through the program, unpaid debt can be collected for such matters as parking and red light tickets; utility bills, such as water and sewer costs; traffic fines, ordinance violations and court fees; and tuition and student fees.
Union County Circuit Clerk Tiffany Busby said that the process leading to the implementation of the new program began in mid-December of 2018 and was completed by Feb. 7.
The new program went active in the circuit clerk’s office on Feb. 15, when the first fees were collected.
Busby said, with pride, that the comptroller’s office shared that her office’s implementation of the program was done faster than had been seen by any other entity in Illinois.
At this time, the circuit clerk’s office is the only government entity in Union County which is participating in the program.
Training for the program involved online and hands-on sessions. Busby and circuit clerk’s office deputy clerk Emily Hartsock participated in the training.
Funding generated by the circuit clerk’s office from the time of the start-up on Feb. 15 through Feb. 28 totalled $3,269.85, Busby said.
Busby said she was made aware of the program in the state comptroller’s office through Credit Collection Partners in Taylorville. The county began working with the firm in June of 2018.
Credit Collection Partners is helping the county to collect more than $603,000 in overdue fines, court costs and fees. The overdue funds involve 1,000 court cases dating back to 2012.
The comptroller’s office explains that through the Local Debt Recovery Program, LDRP, it withholds unpaid debt from checks issued by the state. This process is known as an “offset.” The comptroller’s office also takes $15 to $20 fee from the debtor.
The comptroller’s office said that offsets can come from:
•Income tax refunds, which includes returns from individuals and businesses.
•A state employee’s paycheck (only a portion is withheld from each check).
•State vendor contracts.
The process for collecting funds is outlined by the comptroller’s office and begins with a local entity, such as the Union County circuit clerk’s office, signing up with the LDRP.
The circuit clerk’s office submits outstanding debt claims to the Illinois Debt Recovery Offset Portal, IDROP.
Submitted debt must be less than seven years old from the date of final determination, greater than $9.99, in a correct format and in accordance with an established notice process.
IDROP matches claims again state records. Matched records are submitted for an offset.
IDROP registers the offset, such as an income tax return and withholds the money.
The debtor has 60 days to file a protest regarding the action. If the debtor files a protest, the circuit clerk’s office responds. A hearing officer reviews evidence in the matter and then makes a ruling.
If no protest is filed, or if a protest is denied, then the money is transferred to the circuit clerk’s office.