City of Eau Claire looking to write off $600,000 of debt

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 8:37 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A decision at Tuesday night’s Eau Claire City Council meeting could wipe out more than $600,000 worth of debt owed to the city.

These unpaid accounts include property tax write offs, unpaid parking tickets and unpaid ambulance bills.

“It’s not that we have to write it off, it’s more about accurately reporting our financial picture,” says City of Eau Claire Finance Director Jay Winzenz.

He says writing off debt is something the city does each year.

“So every year, we take a look at those accounts receivable and those that are at a point where they’ve been turned over to the collection agency that does collections for us and they’ve been unsuccessful.”

The city is looking to write off more than $600,000 worth of debt from 2020.

Breaking the total down, nearly $14,000 of it is property tax write-offs, over $30,000 accounts for outstanding city invoices and over $19,000 in unpaid parking tickets.

However a bulk of the debt, nearly $550,000, is due to unpaid ambulance bills.

“Medicare and Medicaid only reimburse so much for those calls and we’re required to accept what’s called assignment from Medicare and Medicaid and when we do that, we basically agree to accept the payment as payment in full,” Winzenz says.

He says while the dollar amount may seem large, it is something that is planned for and has no effect on the city’s overall annual budget.

“We’re doing projections based on actual dollar amounts received, not based upon what we think our number of ambulance runs are going to be multiplied by the rate in effect.”

Winzenz says although the unpaid debts have no effect on the annual budget, if the debts were to be paid in full rather than having to be written off, it would help lower property taxes for those living within the city.

To see a full breakdown of these debts, click here.

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