Lamar Utility Board Discusses Collection Write-Offs

Lamar Light Plant Wind Turbines

Lamar Light Plant Wind Turbines

 

The Lamar Utility Board voted to accept the annual collection write-offs for unpaid customer bills for the year.  The uncollectible accounts for 2013 amounted to $49,997.99, which is only a hair shy of the $50,000, budgeted for that year.  That sum represents 0.38% of the Light Plant’s 2013 revenues of $13,145,197.  A collection agency attempts to retrieve payment on the accounts and their payment comes from a percentage of those bills which are paid.  The accounts are left open for ten years.

Lisa Denman, Light Plant accountant explained for the newer board members that the actual write-offs come to $85,000, but they hold the budget at the $50,000 mark for Light and Power.  She said that the figure was up by about $12,000 compared to the previous year.  Board member Rick Beard commented that some amounts of the delinquent list were in the neighborhood of $1,400 and asked, “These figures are for a business, aren’t they?”  It was explained that some customers who have medicinal needs, are given some leeway on payments, but they can run as much as six months delinquent by the time the payment comes due before the utilities are shut off.

Altogether, the City of Lamar wrote off $62,214.90 in unpaid bills for electricity, water/sewer and the sanitation fund, with Light and Power at the budgeted $50,000 level.  Denman said if the collection agency receives payment within 30 days of notice, Light and Power receives the full 100% of payment, but the percentage begins to decline the longer the account remains delinquent.

The Light and Power financial statement for October 2014 shows cash is up $2,479 from September and accounts receivable decreased by $280,017.  Operating revenue for the month is $1,093,248 with operating costs at $810,581 for a gross operating profit of $282,667.  With non-operating revenues and expenses factored in, there is a net loss for the month of $251,404.

Wind power production is down about 16.4% compared to the same time last year.  Through October, the three turbines generated 8,861 MWH of electricity.  The turbines average capacity decreased 12.3% from the same period last year.

Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh confirmed that six employees from the Lamar Repowering Project have been let go from the plant earlier this month.  “I hope that will be all.  We didn’t want to do this, but there may be more releases pending our litigation issues,” he explained.  There are two separate groups of employees; Lamar Light and Power and Lamar Repowering Project.  The ARPA board of directors had decided in favor of downsizing the Repowering Project’s seventeen employees in light of a potential sell-off and decommissioning of the Project’s equipment as a cost savings move.  The board went into executive session for questions relating to the Lamar Repowering Project and associated litigation.  The board’s final meeting of the year will be Tuesday, December 9.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEmploymentEnergyFeaturedHot TopicsLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyUtilitiesWiley

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