Supervisors struggling with garbage accountability

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 7, 2008

In a local “redistribution of wealth,” Warren County residents who pay their garbage collection bills also pay the garbage collection bills of those who don’t. And now there’s a general tax subsidy, too.

It’s a little-known and little-discussed arrangement, but it’s one worth some attention.

Fault can be traced to the Legislature, which about 20 years ago passed along what amounts to an unfunded mandate. All 82 counties were required for the first time to start accounting for waste collection and disposal in rural areas. Counties differed widely in their response. Here, the deal was private collectors would continue to solicit and bill customers and the county would maintain a master list of addresses. By contract, private firms are entitled to tap a surcharge fund into which paying customers add $1.25 per month each.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Monday, Warren County supervisors approved a $24,000 loan from the general fund to the garbage fund, the second such loan in six weeks to the pool of money set aside in the $1.25 surcharge fund that keeps the county in compliance with state requirements. That makes $58,953.37 transferred so far.

Supervisors also extended until after Jan. 1 a deadline for collection companies to provide updated customer lists that had been requested by Oct. 1. Totals from earlier this year showed 5,420 active accounts, meaning slightly fewer than half the nonmunicipal households in Warren County were on the master list.

It is a cumbersome process. People move in, move out. While most homes may be in well-ordered subdivisions, many are far down dead-end roads or in mobile home parks that change weekly.

But it’s also a growing expense. We are confident supervisors are working on a solution. Everyone should accept the fact no system will be perfect. But it’s not right for people who pay for their own services to continue to be expected to pay for service to others, too. Especially at what appears to be an increasing rate.