People owe a combined $154,000 in unpaid tickets in Kingsport and one of the names on the list is a prominent city leader, according to documents provided to us by the city.
In all, the city says more than 2,000 tickets remain outstanding. Those include citations for speeding, parking in a handicap zone and overtime parking, among other things.
Those unpaid tickets make up four percent of all the tickets issued over a three-year period.
“Obviously it’s a concern when you’re talking potential revenue loss,” Kingsport Police Department Deputy Chief Dale Phipps said. “For the most part I think people are compliant.”
Mayor Dennis Phillips’ name was on the list provided to us by the city. However, he called it “news to him.” After all, Phillips says he never got a ticket. In fact, he told us the car in question actually belongs to his wife.
“The vehicle’s registered in both names,” Mayor Phillips said. “It’s her vehicle she drives 98% of the time.”
A representative of the city cited the Phillips’ black Chevy in January 2013 for illegally parking in a handicapped space outside a Kingsport hospital. The handicap placard on the car, according to the citation, expired several years before. The total cost of the ticket was $51.
The mayor says if anyone got a citation, it was his wife. However, when we talked to her she too denied ever getting one.
“If there was a ticket that had been put on my windshield, I would have paid it,” Bobbie Phillips said. “I don’t recall ever getting a ticket there. If they put a ticket on it, I didn’t get it. I don’t recall ever receiving one. I can’t tell you what happened. All I know is I have never gotten one at the hospital or anywhere else. I will go down to the city and check on it.”
In a perfect world Phillips and every other person with delinquent tickets should have heard from the collections agency the city contracts with multiple times by now.
“Notices are sent out 30 and 60 days after the fact to try to get the person into compliance,” Deputy Chief Phipps said. “The individual’s file is turned over to a collections services and of course, they make contact in the way that they do to try to recover that revenue.”
Unfortunately, the police department says it recently discovered a problem that may have parked many of those notices and kept the people who should have received them in the dark.
“There is a glitch in the system to where notices have not been sent out for a small portion of time,” Deputy Chief Phipps said. “There is a glitch in the software system and so it is feasible that they would not have gotten notified if the ticket had blown off their vehicle and for whatever reason they were unaware.”
According to Phipps, the city is now in the process of trying to fix that glitch.
In the meantime, the mayor’s wife is fixing things too.
“If I got a ticket, I will be more than happy to pay it, but I certainly didn’t even know I had a ticket,” she said. “It’s hard to pay a ticket if you don’t know you had one.”
She may not have realized she had a ticket, but within hours of our first conversation, the city confirms she went to the police department and handed over the $51 she owed.
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