Ron Galperin, chairman of the Commission on Revenue Efficiency, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Councilman Bernard Parks, and City Council President Eric Garcetti at a press conference, Oct. 4, 2010.
Like a lot of cities right now, Los Angeles needs cash. Turns out, a lot of the cash it needs is out there… in uncollected taxes and fees.
Audits and reports on this subject have come and gone. But in the middle of a budget crisis, officials feel urgent about rounding up more than half a billion dollars in uncollected taxes and fees. About three quarters of that money is more than four months past due.
In the spring, the City Council appointed a new commission to make L.A.’s tax collection more efficient. The Commission on Revenue Efficiency — or CORE — returned with a list of proposals, from establishing an inspector general for collections to streamlining the bill paying process.
City Council President Eric Garcetti said that in some cases, the city makes it hard for people to pay what they owe.
"You can’t go online and put your credit card in and get your dog license," Garcetti told reporters. "You have to figure out where to go, you have to print something out, then you have to write your check — I mean, it’s cutting edge technology …for 1992."
Ron Galperin said it took hours for him to get a license for his dog.
"All I wanted to do was just pay," Galperin said. He chaired the commission.
"We’re seeking to have eventually a central payment portal, we’re seeking to have a customer ID number that can be applied across all the various ways in which somebody in the city of L.A. does business with the city," said Galperin.
The commission also recommends intensifying the consequences for delinquencies and selling some of the city's old debts, rather than waiting to write them off.
No city can collect every cent that people owe. They rack up parking tickets, then move out of state without paying them. But Garcetti said 10 percent of what Los Angeles hasn’t collected would provide enough money to restore cuts it’s had to make to the fire department and return libraries back to a six-day-a-week schedule.