Poplar Bluff, Mo. city officials are looking into hiring a collection agency to pursue more than $200,000 in debt owed by a former internet provider.
Poplar Bluff Internet owes bills for city services dating to 2011. The original unpaid bills totaled $175,865 for service between September 2010 and May 2011, according to court documents. In 2013, a judge ruled interest would be assessed at $43.35 per day, or 9% per year.
Bills incurred by Poplar Bluff Internet now have been outstanding for approximately 1,800 days, after years of court battles between the city and the company's owner, Brian Becker of Williamsville, Mo.
Becker successfully argued in court in 2014 that ownership of the debt was part of the city's cable sale to Telecommunications Management, which operates NewWave Cable. The only money paid on the debt to date was from the sale of personal-property items seized by the Butler County, Mo., Sheriff's Department. A sheriff's sale of the items in October 2013 netted $200.
In some of the last court hearings before the city cable sale, Becker testified that Poplar Bluff Internet no longer has assets to pay the debt. Some city council members then argued there’s no reason to pursue the debt because there’s no money to collect but ultimately the city has decided to pursue the delinquencies. The collection agency will receive a percentage of anything collected. Details on where the city stands in the contract process weren’t available on Friday.