The Budget and Finance Committee of the Los Angeles City Council gave its approval to create a new position to oversee collection of unpaid bills owed to the city. The motion to designate what is being called “the collections sheriff” is tentatively scheduled to go before the full City Council later in the month. San Fernando Valley Councilmember Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti introduced the motion in August following discussions with the Valley Industry & Commerce Association and its Audit Sub-Committee Chair Mel Kohn. With the city facing a budget deficit estimated at $406 million, officials are considering ways other than cutting services or raising fees to make up the shortfall. “The time to act is now,” Kohn said. “These uncollected debts are aging and the longer we wait the harder it will be to collect.” In a June 2007 report, City Auditor Laura Chick found that that approximately $502 million in bills had gone uncollected, including large amounts from more than five years ago. The unpaid bills include ambulance transportation fees, industrial user permits, police response to false alarms, and expediting planning department cases. Chick thanked Kohn for keeping the issue before city lawmakers. “It is unfathomable that in 2008 the City of Los Angeles is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, and that must change,” Chick said.