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Thousands in unpaid utility bills pursued by city of Tallmadge

By ELLIN WALSH Reporter Published: February 26, 2017 12:00 AM
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TALLMADGE -- Tallmadge's finance director is trying to collect "a little over $35,000" in debt from delinquent utility accounts dating back as far as 2011, while taking steps to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.

On Feb. 9 City Council passed an ordinance giving Finance Director Mollie Gilbride the authority to make a determination when those debts are no longer collectible and to write them off at that time. Gilbride said the adoption of such legislation was recommended by Auditor of State Dave Yost's office during the city's last audit. "They recommend writing off uncollectible debt so that your financial statements do not reflect receivables for money that is not collectible," she said.

The $35,000-plus the city's finance department is pursuing relates to 162 delinquent accounts, primarily residential, according to Gilbride. The most common scenario, Gilbride said, is someone sells their home and moves out of Tallmadge. "They shirk us on their last bill," the finance director reported, "and move on We can't turn their water off (as an incentive to get them to pay) and they don't live there anymore so we can't certify the (oustanding) sewer bill to their property taxes."

There are some delinquent commercial accounts which have been referred to the law department, she added.

Going forward, Gilbride said it is her goal to put procedures in place expediting the process of contacting inactive account holders with balances at 30, 60 and 90 days. After three months, Gilbride said the city's utility office will forward information to her office for further collection efforts. The finance director said she is in the process of putting together a request for proposals to contract with an outside collection agency.

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"The intent is not to write off more accounts," Gilbride said, "It's to be better at collecting accounts, but I need your authority to get rid of the uncollectible stuff."

 

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419

Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC


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