Auditors: Aggressive action needed on delinquent accounts

Auditors say the 4th Ward Waterworks Association of Livingston Parish should take aggressive action to collect on delinquent accounts, including legal action or the use of a collection agency.

The audit, released Monday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, says the Albany-area water association made strides in reducing the number of delinquent accounts but continued to have customers who were more than two months behind on their bills and owed more than $50.

The association’s policy is to cut off accounts that have fallen that far into delinquency, independent auditor Phil Hebert, of Ponchatoula, said in the report.

Manager Sid Kinchen said Tuesday that only about 30 of the association’s 1,300 customers are more than two months behind in paying their bills.

“It’s a really low percentage,” Kinchen said. “And it’s generally the same ones that get behind every few months.”

Delinquent accounts will be closed, unless the customers can make arrangements to pay their past-due balances, he said.

According to the audit, net accounts receivable for 2013 totaled $57,000, down from $68,500 in 2011.

The audit does not specify how much of the receivables total was current versus past due.

The total included an estimated $12,000 in unbilled receivables and $3,800 in write-offs for uncollectible accounts.

The association requires a $75 security deposit but no collateral, according to the audit.

Overall, the association brought in $417,000 in revenue from water sales for the year, plus another $51,000 in miscellaneous income, while spending $362,000 to operate, according to the audit.

The auditor also noted the association had about $54,000 in deposits above the $250,000 limit for FDIC insurance, up from $44,000 in 2012.

The 4th Ward Waterworks, created in 1969, provides water services for members within Livingston Parish from the village limits of Albany to the St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parish lines on the north and east and the Tickfaw River to the west.