Walker OKs hiring collection agency

The City Council agreed Monday to enlist a national debt recovery organization to help Walker officials collect outstanding debts owed to the city.

The council unanimously approved a resolution to bring on American Municipal Services, of Carrollton, Texas, to collect debts owed for items such as unpaid court costs and utility bills.

A memo from Mayor Rick Ramsey to council members, provided at Monday’s council meeting, says American Municipal Services won’t charge the city anything for its services.

Instead, the company will charge anyone with outstanding debts an additional fee on top of any fines owed to the city.

That fee won’t exceed 30 percent of the fees a person owes to the city, according to the resolution passed Monday.

Ramsey told the council that American Municipal Services has a roughly 75 percent success rate on recovering debts about two to three years old.

Ramsey said other municipalities have used American Municipal Services for debt recovery and have said the decision to hire the company was “the best thing that’s ever happened to them.”

Ramsey’s memo also says Jerry Denton, marshal of the Denham Springs City Court, has agreed to help Walker officials clear some of the city’s outstanding warrants at no cost to Walker.

Walker officials have sent over a list of 150 outstanding warrants to begin that process, the memo says.

Ramsey said after the council meeting that the city is owed upward of $750,000 in outstanding court fees, some of which go back 15 years.

Ramsey did not have any figures for other outstanding debts.

He said past-due utility payments are generally lower because the city can shut off utilities when bills are not paid on time.

Ramsey said the money collected could be used for a variety of upgrades to the city’s court system and police department.