The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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May 22, 2013

Proposal to write off sewer debt moves forward

CLINTON — The city finance director will have the ongoing authority to write off sewer bills from finalled accounts as long as the balance is under $10, members of the Internal Operations Committee decided Tuesday.

City Finance Director and interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser asked committee members to write off the 195 finalled accounts with a balance of $42.99 or less that the city currently has. That threshold was chosen because it is unable to go for collections through the income offset program below $43.

The city is working on pursuing greater bills.

"We've talked about leaving those amounts in there for 18 months and that really gets you through two tax cycles so we have a better chance of collecting. If we wouldn't collect during that time then that's when we would move that amount and send it on to a collections agency," Kinser said.

Altogether the finalled accounts the city currently has with balances of $42.99 or less amount to $11,863 that the city would be writing off.

City officials passed a resolution in 2011 writing off $72.24 in unpaid sewer and solid waste charges that were from finalled accounts with a $5 or less balance. Kinser asked that committee members make recommendations that will go to the full council to write off the $11,863 as well as grant the finance director the authority to waive bills from inactive accounts that have balances of $10 or less.

Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman asked what process Kinser and her staff would go through before writing off the debt. She explained they would make three collection attempts until the amount moves to collections or is written off.

"We're not talking about, at that level, significant amounts," Kinser said. "It's all about cleaning up and trying to collect what we can collect on."

Committee members approved both of Kinser's suggestions, which will now move to the Committee of the Whole.

At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf asked also that Kinser report to the committee next month on the status of a request for proposal for the city to find a collections agency.

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