As many as 32,000 residents failed to pay their council tax bills this year, landing Birmingham City Council a further £25 million black hole in its finances.
The total amount of money now owed to the local authority in unpaid council tax bills, including debts from previous years, is now £70 million.
Coun Randal Brew, cabinet member for finance, revealed the figures as he defended the council’s decision to employ bailiffs to chase those who owe them money
He hit back at claims that bailiffs working for the council are routinely bullying householders into paying up.
Tory councillor Graham Green said he had seen people in tears because of “unacceptable” methods by the private debt-chasing firms.
Coun Green (Con Oscott) told a recent council meeting that bailiffs were using “scare tactics worse than loan sharks”.
But Coun Brew (Con Northfield) insisted the council always acted in a “fair and caring manner” when recovering debts.
Anyone unable to pay is helped to claim all benefits they are entitled to and given 16 weeks to agree a repayment programme before court action is taken, he added.
Coun Brew said: “It is my responsibility to attach at least equal importance to recovery and enforcement activity where citizens fail to pay their council tax, even when they have the means to do so.
“The negative effect on provision of services and on other council tax payers of not exploring all possible means of recovery are too great to ignore.
“I can assure colleagues that my officers take seriously any complaints relating to the conduct of individual bailiffs.
“Any such matters are fully investigated, and there are regular feedback sessions with the companies involved, who fully appreciate the requirements of the council in terms of compliance with our code of conduct and full current certification by the court.”
Coun Brew accepted that some councillors were concerned about the conduct of bailiffs.
He said he will ask the main scrutiny committee to launch an “open and transparent” investigation into debt recovery practices.