We heard at the March 8 Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole meeting that Treasurer Misty Buscher is now collecting housing violation fines by withholding tax refunds.
From the Jan 16 SJ-R:
Through the Illinois Debt Recovery Offset Portal, the state can withhold tax refunds to people who owe money to a municipality and use that to pay the municipality. In the case of state employees, their debt can come out of their paychecks and be funneled to the municipality, Buscher said. The city has used the portal to collect traffic-related debt, but using the system to collect debt for housing violations will be new this year, Reiser said.
SJR City Hall reporter Jamie Munks obtained FOIA data that indicates there are at least 890 violators who each owe the city $1,000 or more, adding up to at least $2.8 million.
But the exact figure may be even higher – the City doesn’t know for sure due to inaccurate information, outdated software and a City culture of department “silos” with no mandate or process to report or consolidate consistent debt information.
We applaud efforts to use all legal means to collect the City’s due and hold property owners accountable – and strongly believe a new centralized system is needed that consolidates all debt owed to all city departments. We agree with Ward N Alderman Ralph Hanauer, who is quoted as saying, ““I think it needs to be made a priority. We owe it to the taxpayers to collect the debt that’s owed to us.””