Cape Girardeau City Council hires firm to collect delinquent utility bills

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In an attempt to shore up city revenue, the Cape Girardeau City Council on Monday night hired a Kansas City collection firm to chase people who haven't paid their utility bills.

Kansas Counselors Inc. will get 22 cents out of every dollar it collects on long-term delinquencies. Each year, the city forgoes about $127,000 in payments for trash, water and sewer service and $2,000 in other uncollected revenue but has never had a contract with a debt collection agency.

While the city isn't experiencing the same severe drop in revenue that some other cities have experienced in the recession, the budget hasn't allowed for city workers to receive pay raises for two consecutive years. Hiring the collection agency is another way to help supplement the budget, city manager Scott Meyer said after the council meeting.

Most of the people who will be targets of the collection agency have either moved away from Cape Girardeau or live here without their name on a city bill, Meyer noted. The city won't turn over bills to the collection agency without first working with city staff to find the person and collect the money, he said.

"These are people we have already tried to collect from," Meyer said. "It if it somebody here, you just turn off their water."

Kansas Counselors was chosen over Client Services Inc. of St. Louis despite charging the city more on each collection. Client Services Inc. only wanted 20 cents out of every dollar collected, but the company has no experience working as a collection agency for municipalities, Meyer said.

The city expects Kansas Counselors to use collection practices that are a "softer touch" than Client Services offered, Meyer wrote in a letter accompanying his recommendation. "Collecting for a municipality isn't the same thing as collecting for a loan outfit," Meyer said.

The company did not predict a success rate, but Meyer said any amount collected will help.

In other action, the council gave final approval to a plan to spend $2.35 million to convert the city to an automated trash collection and single-stream recycling program. The city expects new garbage trucks and new trash and recycling bins to be delivered early next year in time for a spring start-up to the new program.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Cape Girardeau City Council action

Monday

Cape Girardeau City Hall

401 Independence St.

Action Items

Consent ordinances

* Approved an ordinance appropriating $2.35 million for capital and operating expenditures for the Solid Waste Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.

* Approved an ordinance amending the city code by establishing a no-parking zone on Meadowbrook Lane.

* Approved an ordinance authorizing the city manager to execute an agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to accept a $126,000 grant for the promotion of scheduled air service at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

* Approved an ordinance authorizing the city manager to execute a $167,000 Air Traffic Control Tower Operating Assistance Grant Agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

* Approved an ordinance pertaining to school speed zones.

* Approved an ordinance approving the record plat of Boulder Crest Estates.

New ordinances

* Approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to execute general warranty deeds to CWC-RE Holdings LLC and Mayson Investments LLC for the transfer of remnant property at the southwest corner of Mount Auburn and Bloomfield roads.

Resolutions

* Approved a resolution changing the authorized representative for the city with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Revolving Fund Program for loans under the Missouri Safe Drinking Water Law and the Missouri Clean Water Law regarding the expansion of Water Plant No. 1 and various other water and sewer projects.

* Approved a resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources State Revolving Fund Program for a $1 million grant and a loan of approximately $1 million under the Missouri Clean Water Law.

* Approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute an agreement for debt collection services with Kansas Counselors Inc. to recover $127,000 in unpaid utility bills and $2,000 in other uncollected revenue.

Appointments

* Re-appointed Cord Dombrowski to the Show Me Center Board of Managers.

* Re-appointed Ruth Knote to the River Campus Board of Managers.

* Appointed Aaron Altenthal to the Board of Examiners.

Liquor licenses

* Conditionally approved an original package liquor and Sunday sales license for Toni Majeed, d/b/a Semo Mart LLC, 40 N. Sprigg St., Toni Majeed, managing officer.

* Conditionally approved a 5 percent beer by the drink liquor license for James My Nguyen, d/b/a King Nails and Spa, 1131 N. Kingshighway, Suite A & B, James My Nguyen, managing officer.

Other

* Approved a motion changing the dates of city council meetings in 2010.

Map of pertinent addresses

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