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posted: 10/26/2012 7:17 PM

Ill. comptroller to help Hoffman Estates with collecting debt

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Hoffman Estates will soon be getting help from the state comptroller's office to collect outstanding ambulance fees, code enforcement fines and fines for red-light violations.

The village board on Oct. 22 approved an intergovernmental agreement that allows the comptroller to collect outstanding debt for Hoffman Estates in accordance with the General Assembly's debt recovery program.

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Village Manager Jim Norris said the village board approved a similar agreement in June, but certain amendments by the office since then required the board to approve a new agreement with minor wording changes this week.

The agreement allows the comptroller to take money owed to Hoffman Estates, plus a $15 administrative fee, out of a debtor's state tax refund; state-issued vendor, retirement or payroll checks; or lottery winnings. The amount is transferred to the village after the debtor receives written notice and has 60 days to protest. There is no out-of-pocket cost to Hoffman Estates.

Norris said the partnership with the comptroller will help primarily in collecting money from people who have moved out of the village because it will be faster than other methods.

"It's very hard for us to catch up with some of those folks," he said.

The agreement, however, allows the village to continue using its own resources and third-party collecting agencies, if it so chooses, in addition to the comptroller's help.

"We're not looking at it as the sole collecting method; we're looking at it as another tool to help with collection," Norris said.

Rachel Musiala, assistant director of finance, said the village is owed about $500,000 for past-due ambulance fees. She said the majority of those fees are probably uncollectable due to the age of the accounts, but officials hope the comptroller will be able to assist in collecting some of it. The village is also owed about $300,000 in enforcement citations and a much smaller amount for red-light violations.

Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Libertyville, St. Charles and Grayslake are just a few of the other local municipalities that are taking advantage of the state's debt recovery program.

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