Friday, January 7, 2011

City struggles to collect $109,000 in parking tickets

Ketchum hires collection agency to force payment

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum is resorting to a collection agency to force payment of $109,000 in parking tickets that violators refuse to pay.

Police Sgt. Dave Kassner said the department sent a final demand-of-payment letter in November, stating that if the tickets were not paid in 30 days, they would be turned over to a collection agency. He said only a small percentage of the approximately 500 vehicle owners complied. The council hired Nampa-based CPI Collection on Monday.

Teri Campbell, CPI's director of marketing, said the company has collected fines for Nampa, Meridian, Ammon and other small Idaho cities, but this is the first time it has dealt with outstanding Ketchum parking tickets. She said that if people don't pay up now, the offense will appear on their credit reports and will also be attached to subsequent fines owed anywhere else.

But that consequence does not appear to scare a majority of people into writing a check. Campbell said collection agencies' industry average is to receive payment on 13 to 17 percent of parking tickets.

"Some people just don't care," she said, adding that they see a parking ticket as inconsequential.

Kassner said most parking tickets were handed out for parking overtime in spaces with two-hour limits. The fine system for that offense is a warning the first time, a $25 ticket for the second violation and $52 tickets thereafter. With the average payment owed the city of $214, that means these drivers were cited about five times.

For its share, CBI doesn't take a cut of the fine owed to Ketchum but adds a 33 percent fee that the violator is forced to pay, meaning CBI's service is free to the city.

Trevon Milliard:

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