Staff Editorial

Budget shortfall means debt collection

If you’re one of the people who has an outstanding fine in the city of Houston, get ready to pay up. City officials are gearing up to collect on the almost $1 billion in uncollected parking tickets, building code violations and utility bills.

The city established a debt collection unit on Wednesday that will be able to file lawsuits to collect on fees and fines.

With a $54 million dollar shortfall projected for the city’s budget, the debts couldn’t be collected at a better time.

Mayor Annise Parker said that credit and collection agencies are going to be contacted, and that lawsuits will be coming for those who still refuse payment.

“We cannot afford to leave any money out on the table, so we’re going to go out and collect it,” Parker said in an article in the Houston Chronicle.

These fees are the key to running an efficient city right now.

There’s a massive deficit in the city government — something drastic has to be done to close the gap.

Unpaid bills add up; it’s not free to live in this city, unfortunately, but some people seem to be trying their hardest to do just that.

Sure, the government can trim budget items here and there — what organization can’t say the same? But when deficits go into the millions, and there are billions in unpaid fines, what other choice does the city have?

People need to realize that there is some level of personal responsibility at stake in everything they do.

This program isn’t designed to try and collect fees from people who can’t pay; it’s specifically targeting those who refuse to pay.

Without these fees and fines, the city has to find money in other (and more nefarious) ways — increased traffic tickets and taxes.

So if you get a sternly-worded letter in the next few months telling you to finally take care of all those unpaid parking tickets or utility bills, pay attention — you could just find yourself in court if you don’t comply.

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