WILMINGTON — Delinquent user bills in the Martinsville-Midland Sewer District have decreased since last year by more than $9,000, a change officials hope will become a pattern.
Clinton County commissioners on Wednesday approved placing the delinquent accounts onto the real estate property tax list as liens against the real estate.
Last year, the amount of total delinquent debt was almost $69,000, according to Clinton County Commissioner Kerry Steed. This year, the amount is $59,635, according to JoAnn Quallen of the Clinton County Auditor’s Office.
“That’s a significant drop,” Steed said.
The commissioner said he attributes the improvement “to bringing the billing and accounts and handling of Martinsville-Midland in-house through the [county] auditor’s office.”
Quallen handles the process, and met with the commissioners Wednesday, along with her co-worker Danette Hines.
“These people [resident customers] are special to me. I know a lot of them. It means a lot to me,” said Quallen about her work.
“I think one positive thing is working with the individuals — when you see how hard they really, really are trying,” she added.
Payment plans have been worked out with some delinquent customers, said Quallen.
Previously, an outside contractor handled the sewer district’s user bills, Steed said.
According to Quallen, part of the drop in past-due payments probably is due to properties selling and officials being able to collect what was delinquent.
The current total amount of $59,635 of delinquent payments includes a 5 percent penalty that’s been assessed — amounting to about $2,840, said Quallen.
Kerry said county officials want to do whatever they can to help the sewer district’s customers get current on their bills.
On another matter, Clinton County Auditor Terry Habermehl and the Chief Deputy Auditor Carol McFall told county commissioners and representatives of the Clinton County Regional Airport Authority Board that when the FAA awards grant funds to the county for projects at the county airport, the commissioners need to review the expenditures.
The issue arose because state auditors found no record at the county auditor’s office that the county had received the FAA grant, McFall said.
Assistant Clinton County Prosecutor Andrew McCoy said his legal opinion is that a local procedure to notify the county auditor’s office needs to be worked out so the office can track the grant dollars.
McFall said if state auditors make the same finding in the future, it could hurt local chances for future FAA grants.
The Clinton County Airport is located on North Curry Road, northwest of Wilmington.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.