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Spokane may write off years of unpaid utility bills

January 6, 2020 GMT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Spokane is planning to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid utility bills dating back two decades as the city looks to upgrade its payment software.

The proposal would forgive more than $450,000 in payments and late fees accrued by 174 ratepayers during the years 1999 to 2013.

The Spokesman-Review reports that a city official says those payments would be legally difficult to recoup.

Non-payment of utilities, including charges for trash collection, sewer and water services, can result in late fees, liens placed on a property and termination of service. But the debt that is being considered for forgiveness may have been incurred by businesses no longer located in the area, or residents who died or moved away.

Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm says she appreciates that the utility payments would be legally difficult to pursue. But she also wanted to make sure that city officials had done everything to secure payment before writing the debts off.