In what would normally be an off day for city council members, they gathered for a special council meeting to discuss the situation surrounding Kane Beef’s delinquent utility account which swelled to more than $2.3 million over the course of a year.
The mayor and council members went behind closed doors to discuss that multimillion dollar delinquent utility bill. After just over two hours of discussion, the city announced a plan to settle the debt with Kane Beef.
Under the terms of what’s called a workout agreement, the company will pay $35,000 a week until its account is current. Kane Beef will also pay $50,000 a month to cover a fee for a bounced check to the city. That check was supposed to be the initial payment of a prior agreement between the company and the city.
As Mayor Joe McComb explained about the agreement reached on Friday, "In the event that either one of those or both of those payments are missed, the provision provides that water will be terminated."
Kane Beef will also have to stay current on its monthly utility bills. The company made good on that part of the agreement on Monday by paying its April utility bill for more than $270,000.
The mayor has also formed a committee consisting of council members Greg Smith, Everett Roy, and Debbie Lindsey-Opel. Their job will be to make changes to the city’s current policy for *all commercial utility accounts to make sure a delinquency of this magnitude doesn’t happen again.
"Clearly this account was different than the others," Lindsey-Opel tells KRIS 6 News. "And somehow there was not any red flag that went up to say, ‘You know what? We need to take a look at this sooner. We need to alert some other folks.’"
"We just want to make sure — number one, that we’re communicating to them — and that we have the ability to collect," says Everett Roy, the newly sworn-in District 1 representative.
Overall, Mayor McComb says city staff is going a good job collecting on these accounts. He says only 1.2 percent of them are delinquent with no repayment plan. He add the city remains willing to work with utility customers to settle delinquencies. But he says a new policy will prevent a repeat of what happened with Kane Beef.
"We want the public to know that we’re here. We’re on it. The staff overall is doing a very good job on the collections. There was just one that got away from us," McComb says.
McComb wants the new policy committee to come back with recommendations within the next two weeks. He hopes to have it on the council agenda in time for the May 15 meeting.