Turner Countians won't pay garbage bills - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Turner Countians won't pay garbage bills

November 17, 2005

Ashburn -- Hundreds of Turner Countians could soon be left with piles of garbage in front of their homes, because the county is going to stop picking up their garbage.

The county is making a final effort to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in delinquent garbage bills. They've offered warnings, amnesty for late fees and even allowed payment plans, but about 400 people are still more than 60 days behind on garbage bills.

One of them is a county commissioner who hasn't paid his garbage bill in more than six months. Now the county's in a tight and may have to stop collecting garbage.

Come Friday it will be pretty easy to tell who has paid their garbage bills and who hasn't. Those in compliance will have one of these stickers on their cans, other will be overflowing. "The customers that were delinquent, or 60 days past due, did not receive a sticker," says County Administrator Charles Akridge.

"It's not fair for the taxpayers that pay to subsidize those that don't, and that's the message we're sending," says Akridge.

And one of those who won't get a sticker is County Commissioner Joe Burgess, who was recently arrested for dog fighting, hasn't paid his garbage in 183 days, and owes the county $570.

"Allied Waste will be checking after November 18th to make sure the sticker is on there, and if it's not that service could be interrupted immediately," said Akridge.

At least 200 people owe more than $500, and past due bills are costing them a total of almost $300,000. Money they can no longer afford to lose. "Quite frankly, we probably haven't managed it as well as we should have because it should have never gotten to this point. $3,000, $4,000 for a garbage account when it's $15-- that tells you that there's some people that have never paid," Akridge says.

Akridge says ordinances prohibit residents from disposing of their trash on their own, every residence has to have a poly cart. So it's either pay up or make payment arrangements if you don't want trash to pile up around your home.

"We're being pretty flexible in the payment arrangements, but we will continue to aggressively collect this money." That could mean eventually being taken to court. A compliance officer has been combing the county giving warnings, but county officials say failure to comply will eventually result in interruption of services.

Charles Akridge says if bills are still not paid by next year, fees will be added to homeowner's property taxes, and could result in lien's against property.

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