By MARY JEAN HALL
Special to the Press
DRESDEN – Many of Dresden’s current and former residents could hear from a collection agency soon regarding unpaid final utility bills.
The Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved to accept Collection Management Services out of Union City as the collection agency for unpaid water bills that are more than 120 days past due. The vote came during the meeting Monday night (Feb. 4) after Finance Director Carla Edwards recommended CMS as the agency.
Edwards contacted two agencies in the area, including MSCB, Inc. in Paris. She recommended CMS because they offered a lower fee and responded quickly to her requests for additional information.
According to Edwards, there is a balance of more than $12,000 on closed accounts that are 120 days past due for the 2012 year.
CMS would get 40 percent of anything collected after the company’s involvement, while the City of Dresden would get 60 percent.
“If we collect something, that’s more than nothing,” Edwards said. “(Using a collection agency) is cheaper than an attorney.”
Currently, the city sends out letters to those with unpaid bills 60-90 days after the account has been closed, and only about 10-15 percent of the recipients end up paying. Letters have been issued to everyone with closed accounts over 120 days old who were in the category before Jan. 12 of this year.
According to Edwards there was originally a balance of $12,787.44, but a few people contacted City Hall to pay their bills after receiving the letter and seeing their names published in the paper. The remaining accounts will be turned over to the collection agency.
Shortly before discussing the collection agency, the board unanimously approved the final reading of Ordinance 2013-08, which deals with rezoning. The ordinance amends Dresden’s municipal zoning map to rezone from R-1, which is a low density residential area, to B-3, which is a highway oriented business area, for properties owned by Richard Mansfield on East Main Street.
The board also unanimously approved to accept the bid by Hamilton Roofing for a new roof over the Dresden Police Department. The bid by Hamilton Roofing was for $6,871.87.
According to the invitation to bid, that should include the installation of a white TPO roof system over the entire roof surface of the Dresden Police Department. It should also include a warranty for the labor and material.
David Kelly, a self-employed general contractor, addressed the board on building codes.
“Mr. Kelly came highly recommended as someone who might offer a service to us,” Mayor Danny Forrester said. “The Planning Commission is looking into making sure our land use ordinances and everything are current and meet standards.”
According to the board, the building codes have not been updated recently, so they hope to do that with Kelly’s assistance. Public Works Director Kerry Cooper said that the city isn’t doing any building inspections – the state building inspector is. Although the city opted out of that, they are still doing code enforcement.
Recently the state of Tennessee had adopted the use of an international building code. Previously the state used the southern building code.
“In my opinion, we need to move toward adopting that international building code and remove the references to southern building code so we’re on the same page as the state of Tennessee and it’s uniform across Tennessee,” Alderman Jeff Washburn said.
The board unanimously approved to allocate $200 to pay Kelly for 10 hours of work to review the city’s code.
Kelly will work with Aldermen Washburn and Gwin Anderson on the project.