Officials release delinquent fee list
HUNTINGTON -- The city of Huntington is taking additional steps to collect delinquent municipal and refuse fees.
The city released to the media on Monday a list of 2,333 delinquent municipal fee accounts that have outstanding balances greater than $500 and are at least three quarters behind. The list included the names and addresses on each account along with the outstanding balance.
The city will release a similar list of delinquent refuse fee accounts as early as Wednesday, officials said.
"We've been working with third-party collection agencies for some time now, but releasing this information to the media takes our collection efforts one step further," said Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of administration and finance. "It's basically taking a page out of what the county does for delinquent property taxes."
Huntington has released delinquent account information to the media in the past, but it has been about five years since the last time, Jacobs-Jones said. Mayor Kim Wolfe said he decided to reinstate the measure because publishing delinquent property taxes was an effective collection tool when he served as Cabell County sheriff.
"People get motivated and make payment arrangements when they see their name in the newspaper or on the Internet," Wolfe said. "It's also not fair to the majority of people who are out there paying their taxes and fees."
Dozens of taxpayers have come forward and made payment arrangements since the city announced last week that it would release the names of delinquent account holders to the media, said Deron Runyon, the city's finance director.
The 2,333 delinquent municipal fee accounts that remain on the list represent about 12 percent of all municipal fee accounts, Runyon said. The delinquent accounts total more than $4.1 million in fees and penalties. But not all of that amount is collectable, he said.
"Most collections experts will tell you that you're lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar for anything older than 180 days," he said. "With that being said, we don't want people to think we're not doing everything within our power to collect what's owed."
The city hired Rossman and Co., a Columbus, Ohio-based collection agency in September 2008. Since then, the company has collected more than $1.5 million in municipal and refuse fees, Runyon said.
Huntington also is taking advantage of a new state law that allows cities to place a lien on an account holder's property if they don't set up payment arrangements within 90 days of receiving a delinquency notice.
"We're doing everything we can to collect fees, but we don't have the same remedies that counties do with property taxes," said Runyon, referring to the county's ability eventually to take property on which taxes haven't been paid and sell it.
Those who have delinquent accounts and want to make payment arrangements must call Rossman and Co. at 1-800-250-8935. Discrepancies should be directed to the city's fee auditor at 304-696-5930.
The top 10
The following properties were cited as owing the most municipal fees, according to a list released by the city on Monday.
The properties are listed by the name on the account, the address and the amount owed:
1. Legend Properties LLC, 605-611 9th St., $34,582.45.
2. C-4 Enterprises LLC, 920 Adams Ave., $16,426.67.
3. Cecil Adkins, 301 4th Ave., $12,774.02.
4. Jordan Stewart, 1651 Artisan Ave., $10,631.82.
5. Chandler Audio Inc., 3030 Piedmont Road, $10,419.63
6. Installation Service & Sales I, 2005 10th Ave. Rear, $9,516.01.
7. Robert McElhaney, et al, 322 6th St. W, $9,420.72.
8. Costal Management Group, 1040 Vernon St., $8,509.48.
9. Georgia V. Taylor estate, 1701-1701 1/2 6th Ave., $8,463.92.
10. Van Scoys Contracting, 1419 10th Ave., $8,356.61.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.