Delinquent payments reason for garbage rate increase

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 12/02/2013 6:16 pm
LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) - If you're a resident relying on Lee County to pick up your trash, then get ready to pay more out of pocket for the service.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors voted Monday morning to raise garbage rates for both residential and commercial customers.

It's something most of us have grown accustomed to. At least once a week, we expect a large truck to gather our roadside trash for a nominal fee.

In Lee County, those rates are on the rise but not because of gas or maintenance prices.

Instead, it's all because people aren't paying their garbage bills.

"We're all being penalized because of the deadbeats that won't pay their garbage bills," said Board of Supervisor President Bobby Smith.

The board voted to increase the rate from $9 to $12.50, but that won't permanently fix the problem.

"That problem of not paying is continually going to be there," Smith said. "We're just hoping this $12.50 is gonna sustain us for at least another five or six years before we're gonna have to go up again."

Supervisor Phil Morgan disagrees with that notion and was the lone supervisor to vote against the increase.

"Until we correct the problem, all we're doing basically is penalizing those who are paying and rewarding those who aren't," Morgan said.

He said he refuses to vote for an increase until the board finds a solution to collect delinquent payments.

"It's not fair to those of us that are paying to take care of those that aren't paying," he said.

Lee County Resident David Langford agrees.

"I think it's a shame," Langford said. "I think they ought to be able to do something about it. They ought to be able to catch them on tags or inspection stickers."

He makes a good point. Why can't you take the delinquent garbage bill and put it on someone's car tag or utility?

Supervisors said they've been doing that, but those delinquent payers continue to find loopholes.

"You've got people that get up every morning and try to figure out a way to beat sombody out of something," Smith said.

He said, by law, they're required to pick up the roadside trash regardless of payment, so until the legislature changes the law, he said they're hands are tied.

"You can't do anything that would force them into paying the bill, so we're just out there at the mercy of the people to pay it," Smith explained.

Most supervisors said the best solution is to attach the delinquent payment to the resident's electricity bill, but as of now, it's not allowed by the legislature.
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