State's bebt collection office to begin work Jan. 1

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A new office aimed at collecting state government's back-owed debts will be up and running by the start of the new year.

Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield outlined plans Thursday for creating the Office of Debt Recovery, saying the agency will begin work in January.

Lawmakers established the office in the last legislative session.

Under the law, the Office of Debt Recovery can revoke and suspend state-issued licenses, offset tax refunds, intercept accounts payable and take dollars from some bank accounts to pay off debts.

Agencies will be required to refer delinquent accounts to either the attorney general's office or the debt recovery office for collection.

Barfield doesn't have an estimate of how much money he expects to recover in the current budget year, which runs through June.