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Kenai postpones debt collection of delinquent ambulance bills

Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011

At their Wednesday meeting, members of Kenai's City Council also voted to postpone a decision on outsourcing the debt collection for delinquent ambulance bills.

The council was split on the action, which requires the city manager to bring the contract back before the council.

Councilmen Mike Boyle, Terry Bookey, Ryan Marquis and Bob Molloy voted for postponement. Mayor Pat Porter, student representative Hannah Coffman (whose vote is asked for but not counted), and councilmen Joe Moore and Brian Gabriel voted against it.

Molloy said the postponement enables the community to participate in the debt collection discussion.

"It will allow the public ... to participate in the discussion if they care to do that," Molloy said.

Porter said she had not heard from the public on the matter, and noted that no one had shown up to do so at the meeting.

"We have hired a city manager and a city attorney to look over and protect the interests of the city," he said.

Longtime Kenai resident Bob Peters spoke after their discussion and reminded the council that it was their job to make decisions on behalf of the public.

"I think that you kids are charged with representing the public," he told them.

Earlier this year, the council decided to go the debt collection route and directed city administration to pursue a contract. Finance Director Terry Eubank said in a memo that the city asked for bids, and had selected Professional Credit Services based on their performance and costs.

The resolution asked the city manager to negotiate and enter into a contract with that company, but the council amended the resolution to remove the negotiating directive. Now he's asked to negotiate it first, and then the council will look at the specifics of the contract before asking him to enter into it.

Moore asked why the council wanted to micromanage the decision, calling it a dangerous precedent to get involved with those decisions.

"We've already hashed out the parameters in which delinquent accounts will be collected," Moore said.

Boyle said later that he still had an issue with collection on the whole. He viewed it as kicking a person while they were down.

"People don't ride an ambulance because it's a carnival ride," he said.



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