Debts to County Could Make Up Budget Shortfall
POSTED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 6:12pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 8:56pm
EL PASO--- A county in crisis. $11 million in the hole, and commissioners have been searching for every nickel and dime to cover the deficit.
But now they're considering an option some say should have been thought of from the start: collecting the money they're owed.
"I don't know why not before. Why, why do we have to wait until there's a crises to identify (the problem)?" said Commissioner Dan Haggerty.
Haggerty says the County is owed dozens of millions of dollars: from unpaid property taxes and unpaid judicial ruling, to unpaid traffic tickets.
It all adds up, helping to cover the deficit and more.
"It would save potential jobs, and furlough days, and riffing people and lowering across the board salaries for county employees," said Haggerty.
But how do they get people to pay?
Here's one idea Haggerty says they're looking at: putting a hold on vehicle registrations at the County tax office.
"People are having a love affair with their cars. They will get those license plates renewed, and if we have an opportunity to catch them right there for funds they owe to the county, we're going to implement anything and everything we can to get that," he said.
But some say, in these economic times, the task will be difficult.
"Well, I hope they don't force people to pay because there's a lot of people unemployed right now," said taxpayer Ray Mena.
If the county doesn't collect some of this money, Haggerty says the lay-off, pay cuts, furloughs, and even tax hikes will still be possible.