City goes after millions in unpaid fines
The City of Anchorage is expecting a $20 million budget deficit next year, according to City Treasurer Dan Moore. But Moore said there's one source of cash that could fill that hole with room to spare and lately they've been a lot more aggressive about collecting it.
The City is owed more than $52 million in unpaid fines. Moore said about half the fines are over six-years-old. According to Moore, more than $35 million is misdemeanor criminal fines, including DUIs. More than $12 million is for traffic fines for things like speeding. Restitution and other miscellaneous fines make up the rest.
Moore said it's easy to find people who owe the City money. Anyone can go to www.muni.org/MOAFines, pop-in a name and look them up online. What's harder, according to Moore, is making people pay.
"Unfortunately, there's a lot to collect and a lot of it has accumulated over many years," said Moore.
Recently, the City put a new emphasis on collection. Focus groups helped redesign the collection letters to better get people's attention. Moore said they sent out tens of thousands of letters this summer.
One of the most successful parts of the effort, according to Moore, was a new payment plan that was offered at the end of the letter.
"When we offered the payment plan, we found that hundreds of people took us up on that," said Moore. "It's something that people may not have been aware of. I think they thought it was all or nothing, and if they couldn't afford it all at once, they just ignored what we sent them."
Moore said the city spent about $55,000 on the extra collection efforts. They expect to get an additional $900,000 from people paying their fines.
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