Letter to the Editor: DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on Revenue Report

Recent media reports "of uncollected accounts receivable in DeKalb County both incorrect and misleading," DeKalb CEO writes.

Dear Editor,

The recent coverage by the news media of uncollected accounts receivable in DeKalb County is both incorrect and misleading. The coverage distorts the facts and falsely states that there is a substantial amount of recoverable debt.

The facts of the matter are as follows:

1.      The County does have appropriate procedures in place to address accounts receivable on an on-going basis, including the placement of liens against property for unpaid services. 

2.      The County’s collections ratios are generally equal or higher than the average for comparable jurisdictions. The County’s collection rate for water & sewer service is very high. For the 1st quarter of this year, the collection rate averages 98.42%. That result, given the impact of the recession and the high number of foreclosures in the County, is outstanding.

3.      The County is in the process of awarding a new contract for collection services that provides for an aggressive collection effort on those accounts that are deemed uncollectable through the County’s normal processes. The contract award recommendation is currently being processed by our Purchasing Department for submission to the Board of Commissioners.

The media coverage fails to indicate that the collections for certain services by all counties are controlled by the very nature of the service. For example, the collection rate for services associated with medical transportation is historically low, reflecting the fact that a high percentage of individuals transported do not have insurance. Notwithstanding, the County’s collection rate in this area is above the national average. The County also utilizes a private company to both bill clients and collect outstanding amounts.

The media coverage fails to disclose the time fame of the accumulated debt. A substantial portion of the debt goes back several years and has been properly accounted for as “uncollectable.” 

Notwithstanding our current high performance regarding collections of accounts receivable, we will not rest on our laurels. Our administration remains committed to pursuing an aggressive accounts receivable policy, both through our internal procedures and through the use of appropriate private collections efforts.

Burrell Ellis

DeKalb County CEO



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