Some businesses that provide services to Macon-Bibb County are sometimes having to wait months before being paid.
And in a few instances those vendors have threatened to cut off credit to the government, according to documents obtained by The Telegraph in an open records request.
Macon-Bibb County Finance Director Christy Iuliucci said the county pays the vast majority of vendors within a timely manner.
But there are times when the county has to make some payments later than a month after receiving the bills. That’s because the county receives the bulk of its revenue in October and November when property tax payments roll in, Iuliucci said.
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“It’s like a business that gets paid one time a year. We get our money in October and November. We have to make it work,” she said. “I’m not going to say everyone gets paid within 30 days ... but we manage, and there are those (business owners) that chronically complain even if they get paid on time.”
Mitchell Bunce, owner of Mitchell’s Automotive, said he has invoices dating as far back as March that have yet to be paid for work performed on some county vehicles.
“Usually most everyone pays within 30 days,” Bunce said. “They drag theirs out 30, 60, 90 days. It’s currently not as bad as it has been. With that being said, I’m waiting to see what happens now. It’s close to $60,000 they owe me.”
Bunce said there are times the county will try to respond quickly when contacted about unpaid bills. But for some small companies being paid late impacts their bottom line, he said.
“Things can get picked up and handled kinda quickly,” Bunce said. “At the same time, I know of businesses that don’t want to do business with Bibb County because they can’t afford to carry them.”
Bunce added: “The problem is the mayor and County Commission. They’re the ones in charge, and they’re doing a sorry job, and it’s showing.”
County Commissioner Joe Allen said any late payments are examples of the financial problems facing Macon-Bibb.
“If they had a 3 mill tax increase (last year), they should have been able to pay bills with that,” Allen said.
He later added, “I think they need to go to people they owe bills to, like you have to at your own home, and say we need to work out payment plans.”
One company that does not have any problems being paid on time is Advanced Disposal, the county’s larger service provider.
Advanced gets paid over $7 million annually by the county for garbage pickup.
“They pay within the industry standards, which is within a 60-day range,” district manager Jared Lovett said.
When an invoice is submitted by a department, it still must be verified by finance before any payment can be made, Iuliucci said
In some instances invoices are not turned in to the right person or department, or the money has to be transferred into the appropriate account before a company is paid, she said.
“If they go out and try to pay something and the department is already over budget, they get notification through the computer system that says you need to get within budget, and we’re holding an invoice because nothing’s been paid,” Iuliucci said.
There have been some times when a business didn’t turn in the right type of documents to be paid, she said.
In March, an employee with auto body repair shop CARSTAR Macon emailed the Macon-Bibb finance department about invoices from December and early January totaling $2,360 that had not been paid. The same day as he questioned the lack of payments is when a Macon-Bibb employee replied that the checks were being processed that afternoon, according to the March 9 email.
The county finance department was informed May 17 that the county’s credit could be suspended by Randstad, a staffing agency, because of $9,227 in late payments, including several that were at least 46 days late, according to an email.
The Randstad issue was due to the invoices being sent to the wrong person in the county, Iuliucci said.