Newton residents owe the city big bucks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Newton residents owe the city big bucks

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November 29, 2006

Albany -- Some voters in Newton are organizing a recall effort against the mayor and a councilwoman. They say the leaders aren't doing enough to make up a $17,000 debt created by unpaid water and garbage bills.

The city estimates 77 customers have outstanding bills, one is more than $1,600.

Approximately 315 customers have a monthly combined water and garbage bill from the city of Newton. Some who pay their bills on time are concerned about people who don't.

"A $1600 water bill, a $700 water bill, $400 something, been going on and it ain't just started today. It's been going on a year and a half," said Kathy Weaver.

Kathy Weaver and some other people in Newton are pushing city leaders to collect past due money to get the city out of debt. They feel they're footing the bill for people who just want free water and trash pick up.

"It makes me feel bad it makes me feel angry. It makes me feel sick, oh yea I've had phone calls today," said Weaver.

Some customers say a recent increase in their bills is simply paying off the debt that others created.

The city says that's not true. Mayor Markeyta Bullard says the slight increase in water and $1.50 increase for trash will cover an increased price of insurance and possibly add more police officers among other improvements.

The mayor says they've also started cutting off service to those who don't pay. Twenty-three homes are without water now, and more cut-offs are to come if bills aren't paid.

Critics still say they're unhappy with how the city is running despite the changes.

"They're stewards of our money, and they should be consistent with the rules and regulations on the books. This is not kids monopoly," said Linda Houston.

Kathy Weaver says she's gathered support to recall Mayor Markeyta Bullard and Councilwoman Mamie Lanier.

"We're going to do something to get these people out of office, and start our town to develop businesses, recreations, or anything else we can have done to it," said Weaver.

Newton residents say people who don't pay their bills affect everyone because each overdue bill equals one big debt for the city.

The city began cutting water service around 1 this Wednesday afternoon. If bills remain unpaid, the city will confiscate city-issue garbage cans. Cut-off customers must pay their balance and a $25 reconnection fee.

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