County gets serious about garbage bills

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2000

Staff Writer

May 24, 2000 8 PM

Pike County residents who haven’t paid their solid waste bills may find themselves facing criminal charges in court.

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Sam Green, enforcement officer for the Solid Waste Department, recently brought the problem of nonpayment out in the open and said the county is planning to begin criminal prosecution June 1.

"There’s no excuse," Green said of nonpayment.

Green estimates between $70,000 and $80,000 are owed to the department.

The county does have two options ­ civil or criminal court ­ to get what is owed and they’re ready to go to court.

Nonpayment of solid waste fees is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $200 for each day the person is in violation.

When Pike County press charges, it will follow in the footsteps of officials in Henry County, who recently took a resident to court and won.

That man was fined $36,500 plus $194 in court costs for not paying his solid waste bill over two years. All he owed was a $10 monthly fee that would have totaled $240.

Since first announcing plans for criminal prosecution a couple of weeks ago, Green said residents have taken the threat seriously.

"We’ve had people that haven’t paid in three or four years come in and pay it all," Green said.

He expects more will pay up, but will follow through and take those who don’t to court.

Part of the problem, Green said, is people who file for bankruptcy think they are exempt in paying their solid waste bills and that is not the case.

County attorney Allen Jones said Chapter 13 does not exempt them from paying their solid waste bill.

Jones said criminal prosecution may "send a message" to those who think they don’t have to pay for garbage pick up. However, he does not think civil action would make that big of an impact.