October 2016

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By Robert E. Potrzebowski, President

In March of 2016, the Milwaukee Common Council established the Outstanding Debt Work Group to evaluate and make recommendations for improving the City’s policies and practices in collecting delinquent taxes, fees, fines and other debts owed to the City.  At the end of 2015, such outstanding receivables totaled over $135 million.  The Work Group consisted of aldermen and representatives from the offices of the City Attorney and Comptroller, as well as representatives from those departments that most often have the need for such collection efforts.  Due to its long standing relationship with the City as one of it’s primary collection vendors, the Kohn Law Firm (KLF) was invited to attend the Work Group’s meetings to provide information and also to act as a consultant during its deliberations.  KLF gladly accepted that invitation and was an active participant throughout the process.

That process included consideration of not only the effective recovery of needed revenue streams (e.g., taxes), certain expenditures (e.g., demolition expenses) and various losses (e.g., damage to City property), but also how the fining and collection process can be properly used to discourage problematic practices and behavior (e.g., parking and building code violations). 

On October 24, 2016, the Work Group – by its Chairperson, Alderman Terry Witkowski – presented its report and recommendations to the Judicial and Legislative Committee of the Common Council.  While that list of recommendations is too lengthy to fully recite here, some of the highlights are worthy of note.  For example, the authority to tow even legally parked vehicles that have 3 or more unpaid citations will be sought, as will the right to immobilize (“boot”) certain vehicles as an alternative to towing.  Adding interest charges to certain overdue City invoices that currently do not accrue interest will also be pursued.  And a number of administrative efficiencies will be either immediately implemented or explored, including obtaining additional information and remedies that will aid the City’s collection vendors in recovering its debt, as well as the possibility of centralizing the City’s debt collection efforts.

Over the years, KLF has received numerous “partnership” awards from its clients in recognition of its willingness to not only collect their past due receivables, but also to assist in making better their whole collection process.  KLF’s participation in the City of Milwaukee’s Outstanding Debt Work Group is another example of this philosophy.

Posted: 10/28/2016 1:21:55 PM by Tom Connor | with 0 comments