Laois County Council have implemented a new debt collection system to help them manage their loan arrears in the future.
Acting head of finance, Julie Bergin revealed that up until now the council had been using excel spreadsheets to manage their debts and that the new system was ‘just a better way of managing’ the debtors.
Cllr Willie Aird demanded that the meeting be told what this new debt collection system, which was mentioned in the manager’s monthly report, meant for people.
Ms Bergin explained the system: “The new debt collection system allows us to following up on all outstanding arrears and see any agreement that may be in place. Where a debtor is in difficulty, we are not sending out threatening letters, we try to engage with all our debtors to try and resolve any issues.”
“I want a cast iron agreement from the council that no one else is involved in debt collection. I disagree with those letters going out to people who are doing their level best” Cllr Aird said.
“We need to know what format this is taking,” Cllr Mary Sweeney added.
The acting head of finance tried to reassure the councillors that nothing was changing.
“It will be the same procedure, we are currently managing our debts on excel spreadsheets, this is just a better way of doing it.”
“We work closely with our debtors, there are no Stubbs Gazette letters going out to our loan accounts. There are legal proceedings in some cases where the people will not engage.”
“Our budget is two part. If we don’t claim the income that’s due to us through loans and rent, then we will have to pull back on our expenditure,” acting chief executive, Gerry Murphy said.
“In general most people can pay their rent but if we have exhausted all avenues trying to receive payment well then we have to decide whether we write it off or instigate legal proceedings,” he said.
He continued: “It is not our intention to refer any of our debtors to any other agency bar our solicitors.
“We may have to go down that route sometimes in order to get a property back, but the councillors can still come in and talk to any member of staff if they have a concern.”