Vicksburg approves plan to recover unpaid fines by going after income tax refunds

Updated: Dec. 27, 2019 at 7:10 PM CST
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VICKSBURG, Miss. (WLBT) -Your state income tax refund could be held up if you have unpaid city fines. A state law from 2018 allows cities and counties to authorize the debt collection setoff. Vicksburg is the latest city to move forward with the plan to recover some of their money.

The City of Vicksburg operates on a $30 million budget. For perspective, it takes around $4 million to operate the police department. And there’s more than that that’s owed to the city right now.

“We’ve got about 4 million and 200 something thousand dollars worth of unpaid fines out there and we try to use every means necessary to collect them," explained Mayor George Flaggs. "We’ve got officers out there working around the clock. A lot of these folks have gotten traffic tickets, left town and got assessed a fine and left town and we don’t know where they are. So, this would allow us to at least capture some of it.”

City officials are giving the green light to exercise a plan allowed under legislation signed into law last year. It will let the city go after state income tax refunds to recover those unpaid fines.

Vicksburg isn’t going after all the money due to the city. They’re starting with the highest 50 amounts of unpaid court fines, totaling just more than $90,000.

“90,000 dollars against 4 million dollars is 90,000 we didn’t have,” Flaggs explained.

They’ve decided to enter into an agreement with Municipal Intercept Company, LLC to submit those debts to the Department of Revenue on behalf of the city. But some residents are skeptical.

“I could understand a little bit like it’s from years and years back, something like that," noted Blake Wooten. "You know, like tens of thousands or something like that...I can see that.”

“People have other things they have to handle with their tax money," said Angel Maniel. "I know they should’ve handled their fines too but they have bigger things too.”

Mayor George Flaggs makes this counter-point.

“I’ll take whatever we can rather than raise anybody’s taxes,” added Flaggs.

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