Hank Investigates: Boston unpaid detail bills

Now a Hank Phillippi Ryan investigation into BIG bucks owed to the City of Boston in unpaid bills!  

Hank got involved and got the city more than a quarter million dollars.

How’d she do it?

It’s tonight’s *Hank Investigates*

You can’t have a big road race, or parade, or a rock concert, without detail officers.

Many are off-duty EMTs and firefighters hired to protect public safety at big events.

But our investigation found 400 big name companies who employed these safety patrols, or hooked up to the city’s fire alarm system, simply didn’t pay for those services!  And those unpaid bills add up to $1.6 million!

Gregory Sullivan, Former Massachusetts Inspector General, Pioneer Institute: “That’s a terrible indictment of the city.”

Hank: “These are A-list companies–this is the Red Sox, this is the Convention Center, hospitals…”

Gregory Sullivan: “This is really a shocking thing to learn.”     

Look at this list! When our investigation began it included The Boston Red Sox–which owed more than $16,000! NSTAR $50,000! 

Some bills went unpaid for years – all the city did was keep mailing more bills. Sometimes the city just gave up!  Boston EMS listed $58,000 worth of bills as “written off.”

The firefighters and EMTs still get paid, but when the companies don’t pay, taxpayers do.

Gregory Sullivan: “They owe it to the public to collect this money.”

City officials insisted they’re trying, and gave us copies of invoices they sent. But some companies say they never got those invoices. Others told us the bills “fell through the cracks.” The Big Apple Circus, which sets up on City Hall Plaza, owed $27,200. We called them.

Hank: “Why haven’t you paid the bill?”

Lynn Stirrup, Big Apple Circus: “We have a plan to make payments and cover our obligations as soon as we can.”

Hank: “Did Boston EMS ever call you to say ‘Hey, you owe us $27,000?'”

Lynn Stirrup: “No.”

So what’s going on here? We asked for an on camera interview, but the city told us “We are not planning on making anyone available.”  

In an email, CFO David Sweeney did admit to the unpaid $1.6 million, and told us they’re “working to develop new systems that will increase our rate of collection.”

Here’s a system they could try, just call and ask for the money.

We contacted Nstar, they paid. So did  the MBTA and Harvard University and Boston College and the Red Sox.  The Convention Center is paying too. All we had to do is pick up the phone and City Hall got $275,000.    

Gregory Sullivan:  “What it tells me about the system is that the officials really do not care that much about whether the bills are being paid.”

Hank:  And we found Boston will still provide fire and EMS details even when an organization has overdue bills. The city told us it’s a matter of public safety.