High Point mayor pays bills, still faces questions

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- High Point Mayor Bernita Sims is now current on her utility account with the City of High Point, according to Sims and a confirmation from the city.

Prior to Tuesday morning, Sims owed the city $538.78 since December for bills that originally became past due on October 30,2012.

Sims called the nonpayment a "miscommunication" and said it was not intentional.

Internal memos and emails obtained by FOX8 after a public records request by the High Point Enterprise show the city clearly communicated to Sims its desired to get paid.

After two memos that mention in-person meetings between High Point City Manager Strib Boynton and Mayor Sims, Boynton tells Sims he is sending her account to a collections agency.

"I don't like this any more than you do," Boynton wrote on February 27, 2013, "but this is our normal practice."

Reached via email Tuesday, Sims wrote that the matter had been resolved. In a follow-up phone call, she said, "It was a miscue -- or miscommunication on the part of myself and the city. At this point it has been resolved."

"I did not purposefully go eight months, nine months, whatever that time period was without paying the bill," Sims continued. "At this point, I'm not going to get into the 'he-said-she-said what they did,' any of that. At this point it has been resolved."

According to Customer Service Director Bob Martin, Sims's account did not receive any preferential treatment.

Her account was overdue, she applied for and received an extension. She attempted to pay, but the check with which she paid bounced. The city disconnected her utilities, and she has not had any utility service in her name since then.

"We followed our collection process. We've just not been successful at it," Martin said.  That changed Tuesday.

"That account is current. We received payment this morning and there's no outstanding balance," Martin said.