- Delinquent utility accounts will be removed from active list, but will still be pursued
By Mryna Trauntvein
Every year, the city moves some active utility accounts to inactive accounts.
"For accounting purposes, delinquent utility accounts that have been classified as uncollectible are removed from the active records," said Randy McKnight, city administrator.
He said that moving the accounts from active to inactive did not mean that the accounts would not still be pursued. Those who have accrued the high bills would still be legally held accountable and the city would still try to collect.
"Those who have not paid their bills have paid the guaranteed deposits," said McKnight. "Those have already been applied to the delinquent accounts."
In addition, the city did receive some sales tax back on those unpaid accounts.
"These accounts are predominately referred to as 'skips,'" said Blair Painter, city recorder. "The amount due in the electricity utility consists of 50-percent in our outlay. In addition, we will recover half of the landfill costs from the JRDA."
Painter said the city continued to bill for the past-due accounts and that many of those accounts were many, many years old.
"Some we have already obtained court judgments against," said McKnight.
Some of the delinquent utility users new addresses were unknown but, when those persons surfaced and began collecting wages, those wages could be garnished by the courts until the utilities in arrears were paid.
Painter said that even on the inactive list the unpaid bills continue to collect penalties and interest.
"Utilities for Nephi will, next month, approach $1 million because of the cold weather," said Painter. "The uncollected amount is a drop in the bucket in comparison—it is less than 1 percent."
"How easy is it to collect bills in arrears when someone has taken out bankruptcy?" asked Don Ball, resident.
It was not easy, said Painter, but an attempt was still made.
"If the person is trying to pay the bill, do we forgive the penalties and interest?" asked Lisa Brough, council member.
In the past, that had not happened because none of the previous city councils had thought it wise.
"We do not give any adjustment for penalty and interest," said Painter.
A $100 past-due account could become a huge amount over several years.
"We take the worst of the worst and recommend that you place them on the inactive list," said Painter.
This year, there were no businesses on the list, though, in the past, there have been businesses included.
Sometimes, said McKnight, a person owing money for past utilities will move back to town.
"When the city becomes aware of that person seeking to have utilities connected to another residence, the person must pay the arrears owed the city before utilities can be connected," said McKnight.
He said that it was true that some did try to return to the city and reconnect to utilities perhaps thinking that they would not be detected and that they would not have to pay the back charges.
"We continue to try to collect the back-due charges, interest and penalties owed the city," said McKnight.
There was $8,873.85 in utility charges, $302.54 in sales tax, and $34,135 in penalty and interest charges.