Lee supervisors likely to consider debt collections again

By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal

TUPELO – Debt collections are a likely discussion topic when the Lee County Board of Supervisors reconvenes later this month.
Meeting this morning, supervisors heard from Gene Newman with Mississippi Warrant Network Inc., who explained its system of collecting municipal court and garbage debts.
Supervisors’ President Phil Morgan said he’d like to make a decision about the possibility of gaining old debts at the group’s next meeting Dec. 17.
Other board members are Bobby G. Smith, Darrell Ranking, Tommie Lee Ivy and Billy Joe Holland.
The five-member board met today for the first public session in its new facility at 300 W. Main St., formerly occupied by The Community Development Foundation or CDF.
Earlier today, the public attended a ribbon-cutting and open house to see the spacious complex of meeting rooms and offices. It’s the first time in modern history that the supervisors have had their own offices and board room outside of cramped space near the chancery clerk’s office in the Lee County Justice Center.
The new facility is two blocks south of the board’s former space.
Board clerk Bill Benson, also the chancery clerk, and its attorney, Gary Carnathan, will retain their old offices. Benson’s is in the justice center while Carnathan’s law office is just north of the justice center.
The supervisors’ next scheduled meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 17.
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(Below is a running account of today’s meeting, which began at 11 a.m. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly.)
District 2 Supervisor Phil Morgan opened the meeting with prayer. He is board president.
Agenda is approved.
November minutes are approved.
Bids – on equipment for Solid Waste Department. Ingram Equipment – $216,004 (used), option for complete unit $257.823.20. Sansom Equipment – $209,249.53, (option) $243,249.53. Tri-State Truck Center – $222,979, (2014) $229,404. Prime Vendor – $284, 996.35. Taken under advisement.
Bids – Road department, cab mower tractor. One bid – Black Prairie Tractors, $62,229.12, with trade-in amts. Advisement
Bids – Used Ford tractor. Cristy Cox – $3,500. Allen Simmons – $3,110. Under advisement.
Gene Newman – Mississippi Warrant Network. Inc. Collecting old fines, we specialize in this. Formerly collected bail bonds. We have specialized system. Trick is being able to located people. We do better than most other collection agencies. We have them pay directly to the court. One, don’t worry about money. Second, we find when they pay the court, they’re more likely to pay than to a collection agency. So many scams out there, people don’t know what’s real. If they know it’s to court, they know it’s real. Courts usually get 10-15% more money. Once a month, we bill you. You pay us a percentage of collection. State law allows 25% add to collection in state. Outside state, it’s 50%. We charge 30%, it’s a 5 percent net loss to the county.
MORGAN – a few questions. If it’s over a year, they’re the hardest to collect. Thought you already were in part of Lee collections. (SEAN THOMPSON – Think we agreed on garbage collection.) MORGAN – Thought it was court costs too. I don’t remember renewing it. (THOMPSON – Will check on it.) We’re not collecting anything now. Anything will be above it, that’s my feeling.
HOLLAND – Do you garbage too? NEWMAN – yes. RANKIN – When do we need to do contract? NEWMAN – Our best collection time is when people start getting income tax checks back. Like everybody else. When they have cash. RANKIN – Thought we OK’d that, but I don’t know. Sean, will you look at it and give us an update, how well we’re doing. (THOMPSON – Will do.)
MORGAN – Today, it’s close to $1 million delinquent on garbage. We’re swimming backward.
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TIM ALLRED, road manager – Monthly report. Through Nov. 8. Also new copy of culvert report, you’d asked for. MORGAN – Motion? (RANKIN – Culver report?) ALLRED – Just handed that to Sean. Motion passes.
MORGAN – Motion to make road state aid road. APPROVED.
ALLRED – (Talks to board about some upcoming contracts.) Bid on Wednesday. (THOMPSON – Doesn’t have to be opened in meeting since it is state aid.)
OTHER BUSINESS
RANKIN – Motion to pay the bills. Approved.
NEW BUSINESS
Approved credit card charges for Ivy to attend meeting, pay order.
Approved Tupelo request to use Old Courthouse as New Ward 3 polling place.
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Morgan said he’ll be lobbying for collection agency between now and next meeting.
Also approved travel order for the board for a Dec. 11 meeting, legislative issues.
HOLLAND – Introduced wife, Gwen. Said she’s been battling lung cancer. Going back for new scans Tuesday. Hope for good news. Appreciate all your prayers and thoughts, we’ve still got a ways to go.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com