ITAWAMBA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- What can you buy for $13? A meal for one or maybe a few gallons of gas? That’s the amount Itawamba County residents are currently paying monthly for their garbage bill.
Despite the low cost, the county is trying to collect unpaid garbage fees that date back to the early 90s.
“We have garbage bills all the way back to 1994 and 1997 that are unpaid,” says Bo Russell.
The Itawamba County Solid Waste Department is collecting more than trash. County officials are sifting through $50,000 worth of unpaid bills, dating back more than a decade.
If a customer skips payment, there are several penalties, but there are ways to avoid being tracked.
“If a car tag is not purchased in the county we just have no way of collections the bill,” says Gary Franks.
Bo Russell, the attorney for Itawamba County Board of Supervisors, says the next step is to place a lien on the customer’s property, but even that is limited.
“We are not allowed to sell that house to enforce that lien like a mechanic’s lien or a federal tax lien or anything of that nature so the statute handcuffs us in our abilities to bring any suite against an individual with regards to that lien,” says Russell.
If the lien is overlooked when a buyer is purchasing a home, they end up stuck paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees.
One way have buyers can make sure they don’t end up with a unpaid garbage bill from previous owners is by looking through documents like the DeliGent garbage bills here at Itawamba county courthouse. You can search by name or home address to make sure there is no lien on your soon to be home.
Russell says the amount owed determines whether the pursuit for payment enters justice court.
“Taking somebody to court for a hundred dollar garbage bill not worth it but if you have an outstanding garbage bill of a thousand dollars then yes you would want to take them to court to pursue it,” says Russell.
Once the outstanding fees are paid, the Solid Waste Department can use the money to improve efficiency.
“The 80 percent is used to maintain operations, maintaining up keep of vehicle and so forth,” says Franks.
Since June, the Itawamba County Solid Waste has been able to collect over $150,000 in unpaid garbage bills.