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Report: City Succeeding In Collecting Outstanding Debt

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
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At Chicago City Hall Outside The Mayor's Office. (AP Photo)

At Chicago City Hall Outside The Mayor’s Office. (AP Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Emanuel Administration’s crackdown on scofflaws within the ranks of its own employees seems to be paying off.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, about a month ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he was stepping up the city’s collections of long-overdue debt, which included bringing in about $5 million from banks that had failed to pay some city fees, and putting suburbs on payment plans for long-overdue water supplied by Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

An investigation in September by CBS 2 and the Better Government Association uncovered the delinquent water bills, which surprised suburban taxpayers who thought they were paying for that water.

But in addition to that, city Comptroller Amer Ahmad says the city has also collected more than $1 million by scofflaws who work for the city and the sister agencies, such as the Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Transit Authority.

“Putting people on payment plans, talking to them about compliance with the law, and talking to them about what our rights are under the law – which are discipline, potentially – holding them more accountable, including disciplinary action and termination,” Ahmad said.

The bulk of the fees are unpaid parking tickets.

The city had $3 million in outstanding debt to Chicago taxpayers as of early October, according to the Mayor’s office. Under the Municipal Code, it is illegal for any city department or sister agency to owe debt to the city.

Employees were ordered to pay outstanding debts in full, or agree to a payroll deduction that can last up to a year, within 30 days.

The city said any city employee who is still neglecting a debt of $1,000 or more by Oct. 31 would be fired. Employees with debts of $500 to $1,000 were to be suspended for 29 days, those with debts of $250 to $500 were to get 15 days, and those with debts below $250 were to get 10 days.

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