It has come to my attention that our city is rot with delinquency. Why? What is the structural dilemma behind this problem? Has this been an ongoing issue and for how long? Can it be resolved? What has been the financial loss? Has there been any? Why has this not been resolved or dealt with? Can it be? Has this administration been ineffective or just unaware? These are some of my questions.
As of 2021, Gulfport Municipal Marina delinquencies total $160,597, of which $146,681 is more than 120 days past due. Code enforcement delinquencies total $235,633, of which $229,576 are more than 120 days past due. Utilities delinquencies are $940, 631, of which $149,004 are more than 120 days past due. Magistrates fees or fines are neither accounted for nor reported, as it’s felt they cannot be collected. There is no process for unpaid or past due utilities. Grand total of write-offs for marina and utilities are $176,082. Total Marina write-offs are $45,554 between the dates of 2018-2021. The grand total for the three agings are $1,345,053, of which $527, 271 are more than six months past due.
One example: As of Dec. 21, 2021, one individual owed $17,876.76, with no payments made since 2014. Another person owes $1,167.20, a company owes $2,503.23, and another company owes $3,761.49. In the case of the last company, the City’s received no payments since 2018.
According to the City records, it wrote off $130,528 between the dates of 2018-2021. Samples of this include a business owing $2,250, a landlord owing $1,720, and another person owing $4,637.
The list goes on: A corporation owes $4,279; a real estate investment firm owes $1,037; one person owes $5,312, and another owes $6,032.
There is no record of any code enforcement write-offs for unpaid code fines. Each balance is supposed to have a lien filed against the property, regardless of the amount. By doing this, the past due bill will reportedly be paid, if and when the property sells.
Here are a couple of terms: allowance for bad debt, accounts receivable (AR), certified annual financial report (CAFR), and here’s a seven-step process for Accounts Receivable:
1. Set up account
2. Billing, which would include a referral, a final notice and reminder
5. Collections – within the collections process it must be progressive, and there has to be a final action on the past-due balance
6. Total dealings with write-offs
The City has no specific criteria for write-offs other than the account must receive a final bill. There is no process for unpaid and past due utilities. The City does have some accounts on payment plans, and those balances are put into a separate category, they are not accounted for; the person agrees to a payment plan with the city, or vice versa, and then the City bills them monthly, based upon the plan, so the total balance is not reflected on the aforementioned lists.
I want to criticize the administration for their dereliction of duty to collect delinquent accounts. I would like to see the City answer all the questions from above.
Your neighbor, Ian O’Hara