Report: Unpaid fines cost city $70m last year

City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

As community budget hearings rage on over how to find funds to sustain services and programs in 2013, those who were fined by the city but did not pay cost Philadelphia $70 million last year, according to City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

“This is an ongoing problem and the city is
going to have to get serious about collecting the millions of dollars in
unpaid fines and should start by improving its collection efforts,” Butkovitz said in a release.

Even though the city increased the amounts of some of the fines, which included trash, sanitation and false burglar alarm violations, the number of unpaid fines increased by 38 percent from 2008 to reach 412,837 in 2010.

55,811 of those violations, totaling $5.1 million, were eligible for court referral, the report found, and, as the Office of Administrative Review is limited to referring only 160 cases a week, there is also a backlog of cases yet to be reviewed.

The report recommended that the city null current licenses and permits and deny new ones to any person or business that has unpaid fines for violations, coordinate with the Municipal Court to increase the number of referrals to help clear the backlog and investigate establishing an incentive program that would slightly reduce the amount of the fine owed if it is paid within 10 days.


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