Jul. 22—The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power saw a 45 percent decrease of write-off collectibles during its 2021 fiscal year.
Write-off collectibles — as explained by the BLP's accounting and finance manager, Lynn Diffell — are past-due balances that have been sent to a collection agency. They are from customers not paying their bills and vacating the property that they once occupied, Diffell said.
The municipal utility's 2021 write-offs totaled $16,966.54, which is down from $30,974.40 in 2020.
The BLP's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
Another way the BLP goes about getting the money owed is to require payment for the past-due amount when a customer decides to restart service.
Diffell said there could be several reasons why there were less write-off collectibles this past year.
"The customer service department has improved on their collection processes by obtaining information on all of the occupants of the service address, and getting forwarding addresses and other key personal information for the collection process," she said. "Another possibility is that occupants were not relocating out of service territory at this time due to COVID. In addition, deposit amounts were increased in the past two years and customer service is following collection policies to assure payment."
The BLP has also set up a fund for people who may be struggling, which might also have affected its collections. The utility sets aside funds for its Hometown Helping Hand program that assists BLP customers who are unable to pay their past-due electric bills, Diffell said.
"These funds are administered through The Salvation Army for payment assistance," she said. "The amount used in this fund doubled in 2020-21."
Diffell anticipates that the next fiscal year write-off collectibles will return to previous levels of around $30,000.