Island Lake officials discover 3,173 unpaid tickets

Island Lake may hire a company to begin collecting more than $200,000 in outstanding tickets issued by police.

The board will decide at its Feb. 10 meeting whether to approve hiring TekCollect, a collection agency that works with villages and businesses.

Police Chief William McCorkle told village board members at a meeting this week that more than 3,173 unpaid tickets have been discovered, the earliest of which were issued in 1990. Officials did not have a breakdown of the ticket offenses.

Officials said some of the tickets were discovered in drawers and files in the department, while others were found by a previous collection agency.

“We’re trying to find out why these tickets just laid in a drawer not collected over a period of time and why they weren’t addressed,” McCorkle said. “The bottom line is the officers did write the tickets, but nobody paid attention to the process to make sure they were collected.”

Trustee Connie Mascillino said TekCollect would charge $2,500 to pursue 250 tickets, and the village would pay half of the cost initially and the balance upon completion. There also is a $10 fee per ticket that can be passed on to the offender.

The program is run online and can be managed by the police department to see the status of each ticket, Mascillino said. The company would make three calls to an offender before giving the village the option to take them to court.

She said she did not know if the village or offender would incur court costs and told the board she would find out.

After the company pursues the first 250 tickets, Mascillino said, the village can pay for another 250 tickets or increase the amount and pay for 500 or 1,000 tickets.

TekCollect would be paid through the general fund. All the money collected would return to that fund.

Mayor Debbie Hermann said the village has sent letters to offenders notifying them of outstanding tickets, but the village could benefit from hiring a collection agency.

“We don’t have the manpower to contact that many people. We don’t have the manpower to be a full-time collection agency,” Hermann said.

Trustee John Ponio questioned if hiring a collection agency would work, because many offenders understand the tactics of a collection agency.

“I would wonder if there were other avenues that you considered for collecting this money other than this particular collection agency,” Ponio said.

Trustee Don Saville questioned if the police department has put any safeguards in place.

McCorkle said it was complacency by prior management that allowed the tickets to sit and not be closed out. His staff has devised a process to scan and store tickets on flash drives.

“There is a process where this will not happen again,” he said.