Thursday, July 22, 2010
County works on garbage bills
By SUE WATSON
The board of supervisors has hired Ken Jones to reconcile overdue garbage collection bills and to reconcile the record of who has service and who does not.
Jones produced a stack of cards containing addresses of active accounts in arrears for three to 12 years. Under Marshal County’s contract with Resourceful Environmental Services, the county must pay R.E.S. for any household garbage bills it cannot collect. The county then tries to recover the overdue bills when a person goes to renew a car tag.
Jones said he is looking at accounts overdue by $300 or more - which comes to three years or more going uncollected.
There are many ways households dodge paying up, he said. The account may be in an elderly relative’s address and name but the person does not own a car. Daughters or sons living with the relative may have their car tag registered elsewhere. The renter may move leaving the bill unpaid. A relative may die and R.E.S. is not called to terminate service. Cans may be put out on a street and each neighbor claims the container belongs to the other address.
Jones has been charged with correlating 911 addresses with cans in order to reconcile the service address with the service record. In cases where an address has no mail box, no post office box and the person has moved, the bill most likely belongs to a renter, he said. The county’s job will be to collect the bill from the property owner or landlord.
“We have been attaching (bills) to tags but have not been attaching them to property,” Jones said.
There are instances where a person has been dead five years and R.E.S. has continued to bill but the relative living in the house has not paid the bill. The bill collector has difficulty getting these people to even provide their names.
“There are people who do not have service or a can but their account and service was not cancelled, so the bill keeps clocking on,” Jones said. “The truck drivers do not know who has an account and is not paying. A neighbor on Isom Chapel Road said he had no service, but the guy owed over $1,200.”
Administrator Larry Hall said the county had $32,000 in uncollected bills last month but some of that is old bills and a lot of those accounts are not active.
“If we can’t get the bills to the right folks, we can’t collect it either,” he said.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas called the accounts moving targets.
“Yes,” said Jones, “because people are steadily moving in and out.”
He said R.E.S. is billing the county for the number of cans it has in circulation - about 12,500. But there are probably only 11,500 - 12,000 cans actually brought out to the road.
Hall said the county can go to the power company to find out when a person moved from an address and any billing R.E.S. did to the address when the property was vacant could be determined by the utility bill. The county would ask R.E.S. to deduct the garbage fee for months when there is no power service at an address.
Supervisors said they are trying to get an accurate accounting of billing in an attempt to lower the $650,000 yearly allotted in the budget for garbage collections.
“I think we need to count cans,” said supervisor Eddie Dixon.
In other business, the real and personal property tax rolls were turned in to the Marshall County Board of Supervisors a few weeks ago. Assessed valuations on cars and other personal property such as equipment are down, according to tax assessor Juanita Dillard.
She said car tag valuations are down about $3 million this year over last and business and personal property valuations are down about $1 million. Real property valuations, however, gained about $1 million over last year.
The tax rolls and valuations are used in helping the board of supervisors project the new fiscal year budget (FY 2010-2011) which will be due in September.
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