County solid waste dumps bad checks

Judging by the number of bounced checks written to Island County Solid Waste this year, 37 county residents have no right to complain about "government waste," no pun intended.

Those residents have stiffed the county out of some hard-earned money -- just over $1,000 -- by foisting bad checks for their trash disposal.

Every year, solid waste officials ask the Island County Board of Commissioners to approve writing off "bad debt" due to bounced checks received at county transfer stations. This year, uncollectible funds amounted to $1,088.32 out of total collections of over $1.7 million, or .06 percent of money collected from the public.

Solid Waste manager David Bonvouloir was philosophical at Monday's board meeting in Coupeville about the revenue lost due to people passing bad checks for garbage disposal.

"We consider this the cost of business, which is small given the customer convenience check writing provides," Bonvouloir said.

The solid waste department generally follows a set of procedures when a check with insufficient funds for payment is received. First, it is sent back to the bank. If the check is returned a second time, a letter goes out to the address listed on the check. No response to the letter incites a second correspondence, with a $20 service fee added.

After 15 days, the wayward check is sent to a collection agency.

"When no payment can be collected by the collection agency, then we request a bad debt write off of the total amount of uncollectible checks," Bonvouloir said. "The write off is requested annually at year end."

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