Hanna town council unanimously agreed to write off thousands of dollars in debts after municipal staff said all efforts to collect the money failed. The resolution was passed at the Feb. 13 regular meeting of council.

Town Chief administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill presented councillors with a list of debts owed to the municipality including 12 utility accounts in the amount of $2,524.47 which were described as uncollectable and seven accounts receivable accounts in the amount of $3,418.23 which were also described as uncollectable.

“Administration has followed procedures to obtain the funds but determined that they are uncollectable due to a bankruptcy, the sale of properties or relocation to another community,” stated the staff memo, referring to utility accounts.

Referring to accounts receivable outstanding debts, the report noted, “Administration has followed procedures to obtain the funds but determined that they are uncollectable due to sale of properties, billing discrepancies or relocation to another community.”

The CAO noted he was recommending councillors pass a resolution removing all of these debts from their respective accounts and essentially writing them off.

The largest utility debt listed was $648.94, while the largest accounts receivable was $2,473.12.

During discussion Neill provided more context behind the two accounts, utility and accounts receivable. 

The CAO stated the utility accounts tend to be residential residents who left Hanna with some of the debts dating to a year or two in the past.

The accounts receivable debts, stated the CAO, tend to be larger than the utility ones; Neill described one of the larger debts as belonging to a former renter of ice time at the Hanna arena.

Neill stated this organization apparently doesn’t exist anymore. 

“We were probably a little more generous with them than we should be because they were a local group and we wanted to see them continue,” said Neill.

“But at the end of the day they folded and closed up all of their accounts.”

Coun. Sandra Murphy asked how the Town of Hanna handles a situation where someone owing a bad utility debt comes back to the municipality and applies for that service again. 

Neill answered since Hanna is small organization with a good memory, those applicants would be asked to pay their outstanding debt before service is resumed.

As councillors discussed the issue, the topic of outstanding utility debts in rental units came up. The CAO stated the Town of Hanna’s bylaw makes landlords responsible for utility bills but added that most of the debts currently before council for discussion were from property owners.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution approving the CAO’s recommendation to declare 12 utility accounts in the amount of $2,524.47 as uncollectable and remove the funds from the utility receivable account and declare seven accounts receivable accounts in the amount of $3,418.23 as uncollectable and remove the funds from the trade receivable account.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 28, 2024 at 09:05

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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