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Editorial: Payments due

Nevada as of last year carried $573 million in uncollected debt on the books. To put that in perspective, the figure represents almost 45 percent of the $1.3 billion tax hike lawmakers passed last year, the largest in state history.

Unfortunately, the state has proven an erratic — some might say incompetent — bill collector. For the fiscal year ending next week, the state has recovered a meager $293,000. That’s far below the $2.3 million bureaucrats tracked down in 2013.

On Monday, officials unveiled a state audit examining Nevada’s efforts to reduce its delinquent accounts. Foremost among a series of recommended reforms was to let the governor’s office handle debt collection.

Under current law, state agencies must turn over accounts that are two months past due to the state controller’s office. But the department hasn’t been up to the task. Disputes with a contractor hindered an attempt to automate the system — which was supposed to have paid for itself through increased collections. That failure will likely cost taxpayers somewhere in the low seven figures.

Meantime the scofflaws continue to proliferate.

To his credit, Controller Ron Knecht sought the state audit and agreed with its recommendations. “If the governor’s office can make it work better,” he said this week, “then that’s fine by us.”

Any change will likely require approval from the 2017 Legislature. Let’s hope it’s a high priority. Between now and then, however, Mr. Knecht should get with Gov. Brian Sandoval and determine if anything can be done without legislative approval to hasten the transition and improve collection efforts.

The taxpayers left holding the bag deserve as much.

 

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