PHOENIXVILLE - A month after Borough Manager Jean Krack introduced his intention to bring in an outside collection agency to cut down on nearly $1 million in delinquent water, sewer and trash fees owed to the borough, council approved a request for proposal Krack brought to last week's meeting.
Council unanimously approved advertising the request for proposal (RFP) in the effort to find an agency that Krack said would greatly aid Phoenixville in recovering the fees owed it.
'This thing is ready to go tomorrow,' Krack said of the request for proposal at the Tuesday meeting.
Last month, addressing the large amount of delinquent fees, Krack said he hoped to bring in an outside collection agency to recoup some of those fees. He told 21st Century Media that he did not have the 'manpower' on his staff to go after all of the delinquencies.
Since 21st Century Media printed an article detailing the extent of fee delinquencies in Phoenixville, Krack said 'more than a dozen' different collection agencies from both in and out of state have contacted him to state their interest.
'I think we'll get some good responses,' Krack said of the request for proposal.
There's no word on whether the borough has seen many of its delinquent accounts pay up since the article ran.
As of the start of the year, the delinquencies were up to $942,242.89.
Dan Dvorak, a resident speaking during public participation at the start of the meeting, said he felt hiring a collection agency was a 'waste' of the borough's money and that conducting collection with borough employees would be better.
Later, Councilman Mike Kuznar questioned whether their might be an internal solution to collecting the delinquent fees.
'Seeing that there is likely no end in sight for needing a collection agency, do you think it's prudent to ask if there's a staff resolution to this problem outside of the RFP?' Kuznar asked, wondering whether more staff could be hired or job responsibilities shifted for existing staff.
'My inclination is to always take more employees,' Krack laughed. 'I've been in this environment elsewhere...we don't have the ability to understand all the laws, send out all the documents that are necessary, that require those skills.'
He said most collection agencies are law firms with a distinct understanding of the law when it comes to recovering unpaid fees.
'We'd more likely get in their way,' Krack added. 'Our role is to feed them information on a monthly basis.'
What fee the borough will pay the collection agency is not known at this time. Krack said each agency has 'different formulas' to determine their cut and that will be found out through the request for proposals.
Borough Solicitor Sean Kilkenny said his law firm partners with a company to do collections in Allentown, Scranton and elsewhere in the state. He said in-state entities are usually the best to go with because they fully understand Pennsylvania law.
The collection agency will target account holders who have received past due notices.
'There will be a threshhold,' Krack said. 'A person who is 30 days and $50, it is not going to come to this.'
OTHER WATER NOTESIn his infrastructure committee report during Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Chris Bauers explained a fee in residents' water bills that Dvorak noticed and brought up.
Bauers said a quarterly $5 fee marked for infrastructure and sewer pool in a capital fund designed to match money obtained through grants to help maintain the water system.
That money could go toward fixing inefficiencies and leaks in the system that council hopes to discover through an analysis it authorized sending out a request for proposal for last month.