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Eagle Ford: FELPS board writing off $29K
FLORESVILLE -- Tighter enforcement of company policies, coupled with clearing the books of some old debts, has led to the Floresville Electric Light & Power System (FELPS) board of trustees writing off $19,182.13 in bad debt for the month of April 2013. The trustees took this action at their May 29 board meeting.
Bad debt charge offs are a routine part of the board’s monthly meetings. The money written off represents funds that have gone uncollected after customers failed to pay for the electricity that they used. Even after writing off the funds, FELPS employs outside collection services to facilitate the collection of the balances owed.
FELPS General Manager Kyle Dicke said the utility wrote off approximately $7,000 in bad debt for March. He attributes the spike to an increase in returned checks from customers who attempted to avoid getting their electrical services terminated, along with others who simply could not pay. Earlier this year, FELPS began stricter adherence to its terms and conditions, targeting what Dicke called “a culture of nonpayment.”
Another way FELPS has turned the tide of delinquency is with the use of an automated system that places telephone calls to customers who have not paid their bills. Dicke said that at the end of February, there was $170,000 worth of promises to pay that had gone past their deadline. One month later, that amount fell to $71,000. By the end of April, there was just $7,100 outstanding.
Dicke said FELPS, acting on a recommendation in its financial audit, also wrote off five to eight years of losses related to theft of power. This relates to expenses incurred by the utility when someone tampers with a meter device so that they might steal electricity.
One single customer -- Advanced Living Technologies -- led to the board’s approval of a $10,015.21 bankruptcy charge off. The company, which operates both the Floresville Nursing Center and the Stockdale Nursing Center, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year (see sidebar).
Also during the meeting, Dicke reported to the board that engineering work has begun in preparation for the erection of a radio-communications tower for FELPS’ Eagle Creek substation on F.M. 775 west of U.S. 181. The general manager said the utility plans to solicit construction bids next month and that the tower will improve communication for crews. The tower also has piqued the interest of communications and Internet companies that have inquired about renting equipment space there.
Dicke also reported during the meeting that the purchased-power adjustment on bills mailed May 24 will reflect a charge of $13.73 per 1000 kilowatt-hours.
When the board had finished addressing all of the items on the meeting’s agenda, board President Larry Stavinoha announced that the trustees would be convening in closed session. Dicke said that the board needed to discuss an item related to “personnel,” despite no specific mention of a personnel item on the agenda posted May 23.
In attendance: Board members Mark Moczygemba, Patrick Pollock, Larry Stavinoha, Ignacio Vasquez, Marlin Tanneberger, Vernon Lambeck, and Floresville Mayor Diana Garza; FELPS General Manager Kyle Dicke.
Nursing home operator files Chapter 11
Austin-based Advanced Living Technologies Inc. filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition for voluntary relief petition Feb. 20, 2013.
The company, which operates six nursing homes -- including the Floresville Nursing Center and the Stockdale Nursing Center -- cited a history of financial difficulties in its court filing. It listed assets of approximately $12 million with liabilities of approximately $25 million.
Advanced Living indicated in its petition that the company plans to sell off its assets.
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