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Saturday, Aug 13, 2022
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Collections Panel Gives Its Advice

Centralizing the city’s collection process and making departments more accountable for following collection guidelines were part of the recommendations by the Commission on Revenue Efficiency to bring more money into city coffers. The seven-member commission had spent some six months hearing from various city officials and department heads on how to better collect money owed to it from fees and fines and looking at new sources of revenue. The 109-page report released Oct. 4 by the commission concluded that 76 percent of the $541.1 million non-tax receivables are more than 120 days past due. That amount does not include what is owed to proprietary city departments such as the airports, the port and water and power. “Piecemeal approaches to fixing collections have proven ineffective,” the commission said in the report. “The time for business as usual has passed; we seek nothing less than a change in the culture of City Hall to one in which everyone in city government makes revenue a priority.” The commission set out a blueprint to reform revenue collection, which includes recommendations that can be implemented immediately. Commission chairman Ron Galperin called the report an action plan that involves Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Council and various city departments and offices. While in the short term some recommendations will bring revenue to the city, the long-term goal of the commission’s plan is reform in the collections process, Galperin said. “It shouldn’t be about every department being told (to find ways to bring in revenue),” Galperin said. “It should be a natural process.” Among the recommendations from the commission are to appoint an inspector general to oversee the collections process; having the Office of Finance automatically transfer collection to secondary collection vendors as soon as time allotted to primary collection has expired; and expediting a non-tax amnesty program proposed by the Office of Finance for the 2010-2011 budget. The immediate steps could bring in between $10 million and $25 million in the next fiscal year, the commission’s report said. When the commission was created earlier this year it was with a limited lifespan. Galperin said that Council President Eric Garcetti will introduce a motion to keep the commission active. The next areas the members will look at are money owed to the city from other governmental agencies and assets the city has that can generate more revenue. “It isn’t about how do we penalize people and fine people; that is not what it should be about,” Galperin said. “It is about doing a lot of smarter with what we have.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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