- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

FULTON, Miss. (AP) - Authorities in Itawamba County said they are cracking down on people who owe the county for unpaid garbage fees.

Despite the seemingly low monthly fee - $13- officials say some of the late payments date from the early 1990s.

“We have garbage bills all the way back to 1994 and 1997 that are unpaid,” said Bo Russell, an attorney for the county Board of Supervisors.

WCBI-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1cbPOMd) the county solid waste department is sifting through about $50,000 in unpaid bills.

Officials say penalties could be assessed for late payment, but that it is difficult to track people who haven’t paid once they move away.

“If a car tag is not purchased in the county we just have no way of collecting the bill,” said county Administrator Gary Franks.

Russell said 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,” Russell said.

If the lien is overlooked when a buyer is purchasing a home, the buyer ends up stuck paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees.

One way have buyers can make sure they don’t end up with an unpaid garbage debt from previous owners is by checking documents at the county courthouse.

Russell said the amount owed determines whether the county will go to court seeking payment.

“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,” he said.

The collection push is the latest in an ongoing effort by the county.

Officials said that since June 2013 Itawamba has collected more than $150,000 in unpaid garbage collection bills.


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