The Cleveland Clerk of Courts is likely looking for a new partner that can collect on its unpaid debts after the Ohio Attorney General’s office canceled its agreement because the city was collecting on fines below the AG’s threshold of $100.
The city was sending accounts that were more than 20 years old and for violations that were as low as $20 to the AG’s office, which operates a Collection Enforcement Section. But the terms of the agreement required that any debt sent to the AG’s office be for at least $100. An investigation uncovered that more than 98% of the unpaid debts sent to the AG’s office by the Cleveland Clerk of Courts were for less than $100. In total, more than 100,00 unpaid violations were sent to the state for collection.
In an attempt to increase revenue, the Cleveland City Council passed an ordinance last year to go after any unpaid debts, including parking tickets, unpaid tax debts, and emergency medical services, to name just a few.
Citing the city’s failure to abide by the terms of the agreement, the state canceled the contract and urged the city to offer refunds to residents.
“Cleveland Municipal Clerk of Courts shall be responsible for handling any refunds that you determine are due to the individuals who have paid on these accounts,” wrote Lucas Ward, the Section Chief for the Collection Enforcement Section of the AG’s office, according to a published report. “It is your mistake, so it must be your cure.”