Borough SealAfter hearing some concerns about awarding a contract to a non-local company for the borough’s debt collection, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly voted Monday to reject a contract with Professional Credit Services of Vancouver, Washington.

Four companies bid on the five-year contract. The other three bidders were Merchants Credit Association of Redmond, Washington; Anchorage-based Cornerstone Credit, which is the borough’s current provider; and Ketchikan-based Northern Credit Services.

According to information provided by the borough, staff scored each of the proposals based on certain criteria, including the commission charged, and Professional Credit Services scored best.

Assembly Member Judith McQuerry was the only vote in favor of awarding the contract, and she cited those scores as the reason for her vote.

“I read with interest the staff’s rating for these different companies, and notwithstanding that Northern Credit is a local company, the winning contract was by far and away the preferred service by all of the people involved in the process,” she said. “I think we need to pay serious attention to our staff’s recommendation.”

Other Assembly members agreed that the winning company scored best based on those criteria, but questioned the criteria.

News TileAssembly Member John Harrington said it’s not just about choosing local – it’s about choosing the company that will do the best job. And, he said, that should take more than commission into account.

“So, if the commission rate goes down, the cost-effectiveness of getting those debts goes the other way,” he said. “That is, they are less likely to go after some of the bills. What I would like to see is a comprehensive attempt to get all of our bills covered.”

Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst told the Assembly that the borough will continue its current contract with Cornerstone Credit on a month-to-month basis until the borough is ready to reissue the request for proposals.

The Assembly will discuss the issue during its two-day policy session in mid-January.

Also Monday, the Assembly voted unanimously to accept about $1.3 million in state and federal grants to pay for new buses for the transit department. The local match was about $11,000.