lton County, Georgia hopes to recoup $2 million from unpaid traffic tickets and code violations. Centrally located and populated by more than a million residents, the Atlanta county recently contracted with four private firms to collect the unpaid fees.
DeKalb County, Atlanta, Alpharetta and Roswell have already sought help from private debt collectors. Other local governments and state agencies have helped meet budget demands by outsourcing collection of unpaid fines, including Portland, Texas, Philadelphia, the California Administrative Office of Courts, the Hawaii State Judiciary, Galveston County, Texas, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Boulder, Colorado, to name a few.
The decision to outsource collection of fines and fees owed to government entities is a smart business decision. Though frequently a political hot potato, outsourcing collections allows a government entity to keep operating costs down and to maintain focus on its primary purpose.
Outsourcing debt collection is not a new idea — some of the entities named above have engaged private firms for many years. Boulder, Colorado, for example, has been pleased with outsourced collection activity since 2002. On the other hand, the IRS began outsourcing some collection activities in 2006, but stopped the practice in 2009, motivated at least in part by opponents who complained of privacy concerns.