Solid waste cases heading to court

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 5, 2001

Staff Writer

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

Last summer, Sam Green, enforcement officer for the Solid Waste Department, took cases to court and is planning to head back to court next week.

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"We still have a lot of past due payments," Green said. "There’s no excuse for that."

Green estimates $100,000 is owed to the department.

Since the county has the option of civil or criminal court to get what is owed, Green is ready to take those steps again.

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 presses charges, it will follow in the footsteps of officials in Henry County, which took a resident to court last year 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 more than a year ago, Green said residents have taken the threat seriously.

He has filed the papers that added up to as many as 10 arrests in a week.

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

He hopes more will pay up, but he plans to follow through and take those who don’t to court and has the county commission’s full support.

In May 2000, Green approached the Pike County Commission about the problem of people not paying their solid waste bills. At that time, the Commission gave its full support to prosecute of those who fail to comply with the law.

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.