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Collection program brings $1 million in city revenue

July 31, 2014 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – A program to collect outstanding excise taxes and parking tickets from downtown motorists have yielded nearly $1 million in revenue in the past 15 months.

City Councilor Timothy Rooke explained to Reminder Publications the scanners and computer programs used by the Springfield Parking Authority (SPA) in a five-block section of downtown examine license plates to determine if there are excises taxes or parking fees owed.

The owner of the vehicle is then sent a series of letters asking for payment. If necessary, the “Denver Boot” is used on the cars to motivate the payment.

He had asked for a status report about the program during the Finance Committee meeting on July 28. He said, “It’s really good news and I was happy to hear it.”

Rooke advocated for the program and said the investment was $60,000. He was motivated to try to find a solution when he learned there was $5 million in uncollected parking fines and excise tax in the city.

He explained that the program targeted any vehicle owner with more than $300 in unpaid excise tax or parking fines.

“This is an example of smart government,” Rooke said. He noted the effort was collaboration between the Springfield Police Department, the Office of the Collector, SPA and the City Council, which had to make some legislative changes to city ordinances.

Seeing cars downtown with the Denver Boot on have had the effect of encouraging people to make their payments before they are cited, Rooke said.

The effort has been limited to downtown, but he believes it has had a positive effect in the other neighborhoods of the city as news of the program has spread.

Rooke would like to see the program expanded into parking garages and lots downtown as well as the residential neighborhoods.

The effort has made people “more accountable,” Rooke said.

So far this year, he said collections in just July through the program have equaled about 25 percent of all of last year. 

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