Rather than seek help from collections to retrieve bad debt, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NORSD) has decided to write off nearly $2 million, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
The debts are being written off primarily because the majority of residents who lost their homes in foreclosures walked away from their final bills when they moved. The Cleveland Division of Water (CDoW) doesn't require people to provide Social Security numbers when they sign up for service, making finding debtors
that much more difficult. This is a recurring problem for NORSD, which has been writing off debts almost every year since 1994. "We write off accounts going back six years," said district executive director Julius Ciaccia Jr., as quoted by the news source. "These are inactive accounts. We've exhausted our ability to collect, so we write them off our books." CDoW installed a new system with "improved capabilities" in 2009 to better track debtors, but still declines to ask for Social Security numbers. The news source reports in a separate article that Ohio auditors recently found a $5.8 million deficit in East Cleveland, although on-hand revenue and $3 million from the Cleveland Clinic received from a recent settlement will help pay back the difference.