By: Diane Benjamin
A reader sent the City of Bloomington a Freedom of Information Request for details on every receivable more than 365 days past due. In light of the every increasing taxes the Council passes, he wanted to know who isn’t paying their bills.
There is a problem though.
In October 2013 I sent a FOIA request for details of a Write-Off for $ 513,722.53. I saw it on a financial statement.
In the business world every attempt would be made to collect past due balances – even turning them over to a collection agency. The receivable would be removed from the list and a write-off recorded.
Not so with Bloomington. There is no list, they simply wrote off a percentage that could be un-collectible. That means specific line items that will never be collected are still on the City books.
See this email exchange, I only included the applicable part of mine.
Details of Account listed as Un-collectible ($513,722.53) on the financial statements for the year ended 4/30/12. Include name, amount uncollected, and reason
Please find attached files to complete your FOIA request. In regards to item #3, the Finance Dept. has advised that they do not have detail only estimates that are based on review of detail and historical collections.
City Clerk’s Office
Below are the files received by the reader. The Water bills illegally redacted the names. Because the City doesn’t “clean-up” their receivables by removing any they will never collect, the real past due totals are impossible to determine. Original dates are not included in some of the files. One file goes back to 2007, another to 2011.
The Chateau appears both on General Billing and Due from Business. Some developer fees we KNOW exist don’t appear on any list.
water_Redacted $ 46,370.13
Water – Past Due Amounts-1 $ $396,065.49
Local Taxes due from Businesses $ 348,709.29
General Bills $ 258,242.82
Judgements $ 73,905.87
Fines-Costs Housing $ 396,599.28
Past Due Fines $ 228,877.95
The request was for bills over One Year Old. Some items are listed on more than one list, some others are missing. The City intentionally sends PDF files without totals. If the files aren’t calculated correctly, blame it on the City’s lack of transparency again. If Hales or Nora has a problem with the totals, I’m sure the requester would happily look at new lists with totals.
How many of these are collectible?
I bet the City has no clue.
Instead, taxes are increased.
11 thoughts on “More than a year past due!”
Exhibit A showing why government is always less efficient than the private sector. The employees responsible for collecting these past due amounts will receive the same paycheck whether they collect $1 or everything. This is true for their supervisors as well. There is no incentive for anyone responsible to collect these funds to do anything more than punch in at 8am and out at 5pm.
Another question: How is each department responsible for their own collections? No private sector business would allow such nonsense.
Chapter 2 Section 39
M. It shall be the duty of the Manager to keep current accounts showing at all times the fiscal condition of the City, including the current and anticipated expenses, appropriations, cash on hand, and anticipated revenues of all municipal funds and accounts; and he shall see to the collection of all money due the municipality.
Chapter 16 : Section 36A : Assessment of Interest on Past Due Accounts.
Any fees, debts, accounts receivable or other payments due to the City which remain unpaid more than sixty (60) days after the date for payment specified in the written instrument creating the obligation to pay or, if no written instrument created the obligation to pay, sixty (60) days after the due date set forth in the first demand for payment sent by the City to the debtor, shall have an interest penalty of ten percent (10%) per month assessed on the unpaid principal of such fee, debt, account receivable or other payment. This interest penalty may be waived, reduced, or otherwise settled by the City Manager. This Section 36A does not apply to fees, debts, accounts receivable or other payments where another City ordinance sets forth a penalty for late payment which more specifically applies to such other fee, debt, account receivable or other payment. (Ordinance No. 1998-131)
Give Hales another big raise Council!
The Aldermen should be required to read every code & ordinance before they are sworn into office.
Public comment topic?
HAHAHA…very funny! Since when does the Council really listen to the public comments?
Keep in mind the City Manager is responsible for enforcing all ordinances!
Chapter 16 : Section 3 : Duties Generally of Director of Finance.
The Director of Finance shall be ex-officio City Comptroller and City Collector. He shall, in addition to the performance of duties vested in the City Comptroller and the City Collector by State law: (1) Establish, organize, and keep all accounts of the City government; (2) prepare, under the direction of the City Manager, the annual budget which shall, upon the approval of the City Manager, constitute his report of estimates required by law to be submitted to the Council; (3) prepare and submit to the City Manager such financial statements and reports as the City Manager may require; (4) preaudit all revenues in order to insure the receipt and deposit of all sums due the City; (5) preaudit all expenditures in order to prevent expenditures in excess of budget appropriations and in order to prevent illegal and irregular expenditures; (6) conduct special studies and investigations into the financial affairs of the City departments whenever he deems it advisable; (7) collect or supervise the collection of all moneys belonging to the City from all sources, except real and personal taxes and from other Governmental jurisdictions; (8) issue all licenses and enforce licensing ordinances of the City, except where such duties are vested in other departments and offices; (9) assist the City Manager in the purchase of all supplies, materials, and equipment required by the various departments and agencies of the City, subject to the ordinances relating thereto and the directions of the City Manager; (10) sell such personal property of the City as will not be needed for further public use, subject to the approval of the City Manager; (11) have charge of the storage of supplies and materials purchased by the City and not delivered directly to the various departments and agencies and keep proper records thereof; and, (12) attend all sales of real estate in the City made under proceedings in the county court to enforce the collection of any special tax or assessment levied and assessed by ordinance of the City Council for any public improvement, and to bid at such sales in behalf of the City. The Director of Finance shall perform such duties with the objective that the financial interests of the City shall, at all times, be protected.
This is NOT a surprise! The books at the courthouse and their record keeping are a joke! Sad state that it is SOMEONE should be HELD accountable for this cluster—-, and either get it straightened out, collect it or take the tax break/write off!! Heck I kept a better checkbook then this as a PANTAGRAPH paperboy at the age of 10! So Hales or the accountants, or SOMEONE is NOT doing their job. And trust me (or ask ANYONE who WAS a paperboy) the PANTAGRAPH ALWAYS got their money, and didn’t take bad checks! PERIOD!
Well I’m definitely not paying my water bill anymore. Of course since I’m not a big name developer or business, I’m guessing it gets shut off after 2 months with a hefty fee to turn it back on plus interest.