Delinquent garbage fees vex officials

Published 7:06 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The city is out about $74,000 from delinquent garbage accounts,officials said Tuesday night, and there needs to be a way to getthat money back.

“We’re paying that,” said Mayor Les Bumgarner. “Garbage and trashand whatever has to pay for itself, we can’t use money out of thegeneral fund, we can’t use tax dollars, we can’t use donations …These people have been charged and aren’t paying their fees.”

The board discussed some of the accounts that are past due up to$500 or more.

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“I’m sure a lot of people on this list would be amazed at what theyowe,” said Ward Six Alderman David Phillips.

Bumgarner said the city is working with the county to try to flagthe users that are not on city water, so when they come in to payfor their car tags they would be prevented from it until theirgarbage fees are paid.

Bumgarner pointed out that some city officials plan to make a tripto Hattiesburg to see what their code health and safety courtentails, and said that possibly there would be some suggestions forwhat to do about delinquent bills.

“I don’t have a solution but I’m open to anyone that has one,” hesaid. “Even if we had an ironclad system, there would still bepeople that wouldn’t pay.”

In addition, the city approved a rate hike for solid waste, sayingthat it will not affect regular garbage and trash pickup ratesunless what is put out is above and beyond the normal or hascommingled trash involved.

“Most of this takes place from stuff that’s carried to thelandfill, because the city picks up a lot of stuff we don’t chargefor, but occasionally there’s stuff we need to change for,” CityClerk Mike Jinks said Wednesday.

The suggested rate hike would be from a $10 minimum to a $15minimum to drop off a load at the landfill. The rate would also goup from $15 a ton to $20 a ton, and there would be a $30 minimum onall commingled trash.

Sanitation Department Director Willie Smith said when debris iscommingled, or includes vegetative and paper or plastic trash, ithas to be charged for.

“We pick up the biodegradables on the first route, and we have todo a second time around for everything that’s commingled,” he said.”If we can’t pick it up, it has to go to the transfer station, andso we have to charge a fee to help cover ourselves.”

City officials said in spite of efforts to educate the community onhow to separate their refuse, the public seems to almost be gettingworse about doing it. Aldermen pointed out that the sanitationdepartment has put out a door hanger before to educate thedepartment.

“That door hanger means nothing,” said Smith with a laugh. “They’lltake it and throw it out there with the trash.”

The board also issued a reminder for a public hearing on theBrignall fire loop, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday.