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Citizen complains about garbage billing

At an August 16 special meeting the Clay County Board of Supervisors heard a complaint from a citizen about garbage bills.
Willie Davis, who owns a trailer park in Clay County, complained that a former tenant of his had not been taken off the garbage list and so is faced with a large delinquent garbage bill. Davis asked that the board forgive the tenant’s death.
“[The tenant] has a bill here for $70 from between 2004 and 2005,” Davis said. “He and his family moved out in 2002. Why do they have a garbage bill from between 2004 and 2005?”
“Where did he live in there?” asked District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus, who is over the county Sanitation Department.
“He moved off my place in 2002,” Davis said. “But he’s got a bill from 2004-2005, and he was not there.”
“Who lived there after he got out of that trailer?” asked Lummus.
“He sold that trailer,” Davis replied. “That was he and his wife’s trailer, and they moved.”
“But the billing stopped in 2005?” Lummus asked.
“He wasn’t living there,” Davis said. “He doesn’t deserve a garbage bill. He wasn’t there. His family wasn’t there. He don’t deserve a garbage bill until 2005 when he left in 2002.”
“What happened was that nobody ever notified the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to stop the bill,” Lummus said. [The PDD handles garbage billing for the county. – Brian Jones] “When you move out, unless you call your supervisor or the PDD to stop the billing, it won’t get stopped. We’ve got to be notified. People move in and don’t tell us, and lots of times we find out years after the fact but we never go back and bill them for what they in back payments. A lot of times people don’t call us when the move out and then the bill keeps going. I’m real curious how they knew to stop it in March 2005. How would they know? Who called to tell them to stop it in 2005? There’s no way of telling.”
“Can I make a suggestion to you?” Davis asked. “The city is responsible for water and they keep up with that. That’s a way to keep track of how people move around. Ask the city to give you a copy of who moves in and who moves out.”
Davis explained to the board that he didn’t like people coming to his house, whether socially or on legal matters.
“I don’t like having deputies come to my house,” Davis said. “Matter of fact, I don’t even want nobody visiting me. That’s just the way I am. I stay away from people. I am paranoid of people. That’s just the way I am. I sign on my gate saying this is a private drive, keep out. That means nobody needs to come through. I’m paranoid of people. You guys can adopt a way so y’all know what’s going on, because y’all do not know. It’s not right.
“I want to get all this garbage stuff behind me,” Davis declared. “If we need to go to federal court to get this behind us…if I win I walk away and if I lose I pay. If you want me to do that, then let’s put this behind us once and for all.” Lummus suggested Davis help the county sort through the billing issues, but he flatly refused.
“What you can do is go back through from when you set up your establishment with your trailers,” Lummus said, “and give us a list of everybody that’s moved in or moved out and let us check to see if any of them are still on the list at the Golden Triangle Planning and Development. That’s the only way to clear it up.”
“I’m going to answer that question right now,” Davis said. “I’m not going to do that. You have a mailing address for all those people when their water or their light gets turned on. If I were to go to federal court I’d have to pay $346, I’ll give that to the county and you can wipe the bill clean or we’ll go to court. I’ll do it either way. I want to get this behind me, I’m tired of this.”
“4-County will not give us a turn on/turn off list,” Lummus said. “They won’t do that. By law, that’s a privacy thing. The city won’t do it, either.”
“Okay, let’s go back,” Davis said. “I will pay you the $346 for everybody who owes a bill and we’ll wipe the slate clean, or either we’ll go to court. You tell me which one you’d rather do.”
“Like I said, with you being a landowner, you need to call the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District,” Lummus said. “If you don’t want to give us the names of the people that’s moved in and out from the time you set this establishment up, we need to give you the name and phone number of the lady that handles the trash billing over there and let you talk to her about these names.”
“There’s people over there now who owe you garbage bills,” Davis said. “They do not get a bill or a notice to come pay their bill. People been there that owe for six or seven years. You shouldn’t be able to get six or seven years behind on a bill. When I start getting behind on a bill, you need to contact me or take me to court. There’s supposed to be a time limit on how long you’re going to pick up the trash on any individual person (without being paid.)”
“One year,” Lummus interjected. “By law we can allow people one year. A lot of people pay their garbage bill on a yearly basis when they pay their car tag. Some people elude that because their tag…a lot of those people tag their cars illegally in another county. Their name might not be on the garbage bill list. If there’s a loophole out there, some people will find it. Some people will do right and pay their bill. When you rent property to somebody, unless that renter calls it in and puts their name on the list they won’t get a bill. If they’re on getting a bill, you’ll never know whether they’re paying it or not. A lot of people are just going to try to get around it.”
“If a person owes you $300 on a garbage bill, that’s more than one year,” Davis said. “That’s three or four years. If you didn’t cut them off in the first 12 months and you didn’t cut them off yet…why…”
“Nobody let us know they moved,” Lummus said.
“But you just said you bill them for a year,” Davis said. “A year is $70.”
Chancery Clerk Robbie Robinson attempted to steer the conversation back to the specific tenant Davis was appearing to discuss.
“What we’ve established through your sworn testimony is that this person has moved,” Robinson said. “We will forgive that bill. And Mr. Lummus is correct. The county is at a disadvantage when it comes to collection of garbage bills. The only mechanism we have is car tags. We do not provide water or electricity. The utilities do not give us a list of turn on and turn off. We’re flapping around in the dark out there. People find a way to get around the car tags, too. We just beg your understanding, because it’s a tough situation for the county.”
“We send out letters to 50 people a month who are more than 365 days over,” Lummus said. “We’re trying to compile this information and whittle this down.”
“Let me go back and say one more thing,” Davis said, unswervingly sticking to his ultimatum. “I will pay you the $346 and you will wipe the slate clean, or I will go to court in Aberdeen. I’m tired of coming in here, I want to get it behind me. You either wipe the slate clean or we’ll go to court and see what the ruling is.”
“You know the names, and you won’t give them to us,” Lummus said. “You check with (the PDD)—”
“The question before you is will you take the deal or not,” Davis snapped, interrupting Lummus.
“We have to go by the law, we can’t just—” said District 3 Supervisor RB Davis, but Willie Davis spoke over him, too.
“I’m making you an offer,” Willie Davis shouted. “I’ll tell you what, a man won a case like this in Aberdeen.”
“It’s a different issue,” Robinson said.
“Once again, take the deal or not?” Willie Davis said.
“We can’t accept a deal on that,” RB Davis said. “Why don’t you get with the PDD and talk to them about it.”
“If you don’t want to talk to me, talk to them,” Lummus said. “They’ll take care of it for you. She can clean up all your past renters for you.”
Willie Davis agreed to contact GTPDD.
“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win,” Willie Davis said. “I play to win.”
“The taxpayers deserve the very same service you’re talking about,” Lummus said. “If you’re renting out there, and they put a trailer out there and don’t pay their taxes on that trailer, (the tax assessor) will come up there and sell it. If you rent property, it’s going to come back on you. They’re going to be coming up that drive.”
“That don’t have nothing to do with me,” Willie Davis said. “If they’re selling somebody else’s trailer, that don’t bother me. It’s when they’re coming after my money. Then it bothers me.”
Willie Davis then left the room.


1 comment

  1. Columbus get their’s picked up 8 times/month or $1.875 per pickup. That’s hard to beat, just wish Columbus would go to the standard cans like Tupelo’s system.

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