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City of MC continues relationship with IC System

IC System's former home in Mason City
IC System’s former home in Mason City

MASON CITY – Through all the drama and tumult over the years, the city of Mason City continues to do business with IC System, a collection agency that couldn’t make a go of it here and left town.

IC System – based in the Twin Cities – consolidated and closed its collection call center, making the announcement in 2012 and shuttering soon after, displacing nearly 100 workers. Another call center now occupies its former home at 858 Calmus Court – WS Live – and employs a fraction of that number. IC System got to Calmus Court with the help of a deal from Mason City taxpayers, but could never come close to its employment goal of 200 workers.  In an ugly episode in 2008, an IC System manager – Scott Bultje – angrily tossed a payback check of $177,600 at the city council, which had enforced the deal that IC couldn’t live up to and stuck up for taxpayers.

Bookmeyer and Cohl Bultje – along with Jean Marinos – celebrate in 2009. Photo by Bryon Houlgrave.

Just a year later, IC System – which also faced a number of complaints at the Mason City Human Rights agency over the years because of how it treated its employees – got involved politically in Mason City and helped Mayor Eric Bookmeyer get elected in the 2009 elections, perhaps looking for smoother sailing here in town. In fact, it got so involved that Scott Bultje’s son – Cohl Bultje – became Bookmeyer’s campaign manager that year. Bookmeyer used the IC System call center to bring in volunteers to make campaign calls.  Cohl Bultje now works for the Iowa Campaign Ethics department.

Bookmeyer got elected and successfully crippled Human Rights – but it took four years, and couldn’t save IC System from going down the tubes and leaving town.

It may be gone, but IC System continues its business relationship with city hall.

The city’s finance department tells NIT that it uses IC System to make collections on past due utilities and ambulance bills. IC System charges the city a 28% fee.

“IC System actually had better results” making collections for the city than a previous collection agency out of Cedar Falls, Finance Director Kevin Jacobson said Monday morning. “We have had them for quite some time, at least 7 years.”

Since the city began working with IC System, Mr. Jacobson says, it has paid fees of $14,059.65 for utility bill collections and $12,313.33 for ambulance bill collections.

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Of course the city still does business with them. Drunkmeyer has to pay them back somehow and what better way than with tax payer money.

The county ought to do something to collect on dead bead drunks, druggies and domestic abuse offenders who owe lots of fines to cerro gordo county. I,d rather see them in jail instead of the losers wandering the streets looking for the next victim, at least we’d know they are at.

It would cost the taxpayers more to house them in jail… It is very expensive to incarcerate people. NOn-violent offenders are ok to be out in my opinion.

@Blisterpak-you might think it is cheaper but wait until one of the losers steals you stuff for drug money or even worse runs into one of your family while driving under the influence. Then you will wish they were in jail where they can’t hurt anyone.

As with so many things, there is a balance wherein we are already paying to have a jail and staff to support it. So it could certainly be argued that it is not more expensive to put them in jail than to have them rounded up and held until their bail money can be garnished to pay their bill.

If we were over capacity, then yes, it would be more expensive, but so many costs are already built in as overhead, why aren’t we using those systems if appropriate?

Find that balance.

@lvs what makes you think they couldn’t hurt people when they were in jail?

OK-they can’t hurt anyone we care about. Does that make it better?

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