$132,930WHAT IT IS: Amount of bad debts recently approved for cancellation by the Newton City Commission.WHAT IT MEANS: Each year, the city commission is asked to approve account cancellations for the preceding calendar year (in this case, 2011). City staff say that like any business, the city has uncollectible accounts (ambulance, utility, etc.) resulting from a variety of reasons, such as bankruptcies, deaths, people who leave town without paying a bill, etc.This leaves the city with an outstanding collection record. The total 2011 billings were about $15.45 million; cancellations are about 0.86 percent of this total. Staff say the cancellation is for accounting purposes, only. Accounts are not actually forgiven, except as required by law (such as a court-ordered discharge in bankruptcy). For example, if a person returns to town requesting utility services, the city will collect the cancelled balance on the old account before providing a new service.COUNTY: Harvey County recently made some cancellations, as well. The county commission voted to cancel warrants totaling $515.80. These are checks issued between Dec. 5, 2009, and Dec. 17, 2010, that have not been presented for payment.Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, said the cancellations will clear the checks off the books. He said an attempt also had been made to contact the people to whom the checks were issued.Have a question about a local government budget? Contact us via email at email@example.com, Attn: Budget breakdown, or call us at 283-1500.