Instead of hiring the Virginia Department of Taxation to collect delinquent court fines, Richmond uses a private collections agency that charges almost twice as much, reports the Times-Dispatch. The city could be paying 17 percent commission for the work. But for the past five years, it has paid 30 percent.
During the 2005 financial year, the state tax department collected 73 percent of all money it tried to recover for the Virginia counties and cities it serves. By comparison, the firm handling Richmond’s collections brought in just 36 percent of what it tried to recover, according to last year’s annual report by the state Compensation Board. Even with a lower collection rate, Marvel Collections has brought in big bucks. Over the last four years, the firm started by two former deputies of then-Commonwealth’s Attorney David M. Hicks — has made $1.04 million in commissions off the city.