EDITORIAL: Pay owed McAllen parking fines before collection agency takes over

With a depressed peso, fewer shoppers from Mexico and decreased sales tax revenue reported by the City of McAllen, city officials are wise to go after unpaid traffic fines and any other means they have available to increase city revenue sources.

That means those who owe should pay up. And they should do so quickly.

McAllen City Commissioners on Monday night voted to bring in a third-party collection agency that will be tasked with going after nearly $1 million in unpaid fines from 2010.

Professional Account Management LLC, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions transportation debt-service collection company, was awarded the bid by the City of McAllen to go after $921,536 in unpaid fines dating from August 2010 to December 2015. A fee of 30 percent will be added to unpaid fines and the company will receive a 30 percent commission for all collections, resulting in the City of McAllen recouping the principal.

The goal is to get at least 20 percent of past-due accounts, city officials said. That would be $184,307. And that would help in the depressed economy that is currently plaguing U.S. border cities like McAllen.

There will be a 30-day grace period, however, which will soon begin once the agreement is signed by both parties, we’re told.

So those who have outstanding tickets would be advised to pay up right now and avoid an additional 30 percent fee tacked on to their bill.

Duncan’s website touts the use of bankruptcy handling, tax refund interception, credit bureau reporting, registration suspension, booting and towing and “other legal collection techniques” as methods they will implore to collect past-due amounts.

The company has retrieved $200 million in delinquent toll way collection fees for dozens of municipalities by using these methods, they say.

City commissioners agreed to the five-year contract on Monday evening, over a year after an internal audit report was released on March 11, 2016 that found 104,324 unpaid citations that the previous collection company, Downtown Services, failed to collect.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling tells us he’s optimistic this new firm will help them bring in money, which can be used to pay for city resources. “I think it is a step in the right direction to collecting parking fines. It will help from a financial standpoint and it will encourage people to pay timely, as many of the people presently do,” Darling told us on Tuesday.

We hope it will.