Time to Pay in Houston

Mayor Parker is cracking down on those who haven’t been paying their bills in Houston.  Those who have overdue parking tickets, unpaid water bills, and red light camera fees will have to start paying up.  Mayor Parker said that Houston is owed about $1 billion from people who have not paid their fees. 
I have to give Mayor Parker a lot of credit for this.  She is finding ways to close the budget gap without only raising taxes; however, this collection cannot be a one time event.  People don’t pay their bills and fines because nothing happens to them if they don’t.  According to KTRK, Houston City Attorney Dan Feldman even admitted that the City doesn’t go beyond phone calls, demand letters, and booting.  They never file lawsuits for parking violators.  Why pay for city workers to issue fines to those who let their meters run out downtown if no one pays the fine?  Why charge ambulance fees ($319 million owed) water and sewage bills ($141 million owed) and library fines ($29 million owed) if no one pays?  Of course there are those who do pay, but word is getting out that nothing happens if you don’t. 
Lawsuits can be expensive and timely, so this might not be the best solution to force people to pay their fines.  City officials have to start thinking outside the box here because we cannot continue this process.  We need to start giving consequences like not allowing those with unpaid parking tickets register their car (unless they are starting to make payments towards their fines).  So while I applaud Mayor Parker for cracking down on unpaid bills, we need to make this a permanent fixture in our city.


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