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Local

Geneva hires collection agency to recover more than $240K in unpaid bills

Collectors to seek Geneva's unpaid parking fines, utility bills, fees

GENEVA – The city of Geneva is owed $240,268 in unpaid utility bills and parking fines, officials said.

Parking tickets, at $148,109, make up the majority of delinquencies with utility billing at $92,159, officials said.

So aldermen unanimously recommended approval of an agreement with Credit Management Control Inc., a Green Bay, Wis., company, to collect these delinquent balances. The City Council will take final action to approve the contract at its June 17 meeting, according to the agenda.

“Back in February, an RFP (request for proposals) was issued for a collection agency to assist in collecting delinquent balances from utility bills, fines and fees,” City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said at a June 3 Committee of the Whole meeting. “The city uses a debt collection which staff is unable to collect through normal processes.”

Four collection agencies responded with proposed fees ranging from 19% to 35%. Credit Management Control offered the lowest fee of 19% and the most convenient hours for people to make their payments, Dawkins said.

According to the agreement, the collection agency will send all the money it collects for Geneva every month, after retaining its 19% fee.

But the city will use the Illinois Comptroller Local Debt Recovery Program first – a state program that aids taxing bodies in collecting unpaid balances – first before sending accounts to Credit Management Control Inc., Dawkins said.

The collection agency will work with that state program as well, Dawkins said.

“We try every effort we can before we turn over any debt to a collection agency, but we get to a point where we have no forwarding address, no phone numbers or anything and they (the collection agency) have means which they can get information.”

The city will reserve the right to to decide whether an unpaid claim will go to litigation. If that occurs, if the city does not choose an attorney, the collection agency will choose one, with the city agreeing to pay the cost, according to the agreement.

The collection agency’s fee increases to 40% if an attorney collects the account. The attorney is also allowed to deduct his or her fee from the balance, according to the agreement.

The agreement also states that the city will not list known bankruptcy and unpaid bills past the statute of limitations with the collection agency.

The collection agency will use “only ordinary and reasonable collection efforts” and follow the Association of Credit and Collection Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, according to the agreement.

The city will agree to stop all invoices, notices and its own collection efforts against the accounts placed with the collection agency, to avoid the possibility of harassment, according to the agreement.

According to its website, www.creditmgt.com, the company has done municipal collections for more than 15 years in 12 counties of Wisconsin.

The company was awarded a contract by the Wisconsin Department of Administration in 2013, allowing it to do debt collection for other state agencies, according to its website.

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