Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Answers to Council Questions on Water Collections

City Council asked staff a number of basic questions about a new collection agency for past due water bills on 1-18-19.  Assistant Director Water Utilities Chief Lance Overstreet had slides ready but never made it past the first one.   Citizens did not get to see any of Overstreet's slides, one of which had projected collections of $132,000.

A recap of Council questions Overstreet could not answer is below.  I sought answers from the City and included those:

 1.  What percentage of the uncollected amounts are commercial vs. residential?  "I don't have that particular number."

 2.  How many accounts does this represent?    "I don't have that number exactly....18,000 sticks in my to mind."   
          Actual number 12,700 City RFP,  11,309 with Current Collection Agency

 3.  In the last three years how much money did the first company collect?  "I'd have to go back and look at documents on that.  I have seen that but I don't recall."  
         Actual number $277,515.22

The "first company" collected the following amounts for the city over the last three years.

Overstreet sold Online Collection Services (from Winterville, North Carolina) as doing credit reporting.  That was the same reason given for hiring the previous vendor in January 2016.  So it is odd Overstreet told Council the city has not had the benefit of credit bureau reporting for the last three years.

It remains to be seen how much the city will collect from its new contract with Online Collection Services. It took three years for staff to bring this item back to Council, January 2016 to January 2019.  How many years before Council hears a report on actual collections vs. staff's projection?

Update 4-30-19:  After weeks of silence the City announced new City Engineer Lance Overstreet.   The press release stated Pehl would work for a private sector engineering firm.  It failed to mention the firm does significant work for the City of San Angelo.  Let's hope does a better job of answering City Council questions than he did with the water collection agency change.

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