12 Investigates: Late payments by the state in 2012

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You pay your bills on time to avoid late fees, and you probably expect the state to do the same. It's your tax dollars right?

The state pays 99 percent of its bills on time, but it's that small percentage of missed payments that can really add up.

Last fall, we showed you how the state missed the billing deadline on $133 million in payments in fiscal year 2011. That cost taxpayers $33,969 in interest - more than the average starting salary of a teacher or a Virginia state trooper.

We uncovered how Virginia State University in Ettrick racked up $12,377 in fees from late payments. A spokesperson told us one construction project caused the problem. "VSU paid 99.9994 percent of it's bills on time," said Tom Reed.

It was the Department of Transportation (V-DOT) that made the most late payments. The agency fell behind on $29 million.

Turn the clock forward one year. Instead of wasting $34,000, in 2012 the state only paid $4,289 dollars in late payments.

"It is much better. Obviously we don't want to pay interest, needlessly. But, if we do, we owe the vendors that to make them whole. It's a state law, it's the right thing to do. And it helps keep costs down," said state comptroller David Von Moll.

Von Moll says last year was an anomaly and that he's happy to see more bills paid on time. He says it makes more companies want to do business with Virginia.

"It helps to keep our costs low when vendors know that they're going to get paid on time. It helps them keep their costs low as well. So, in the long term, we feel like it's a win-win for vendors and the Commonwealth."

State law requires agencies to pay bills before they are due. And out of 6 and a half billions dollars in payments made last year, 99 percent were on time.

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