Whatever steps need to be taken should be taken

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Warren County Board of supervisors Monday took the next step in trying to fix a broken system when it comes to the fees and collection of those fees for residential garbage pickup within the county.

During their work session meeting Monday, supervisors discussed giving residents who live in the county and receive garbage service through Waste Management an online option to pay their bill.

The idea is just part of an ongoing effort and discussion by supervisors to address a system that provides little accountability and responsibility to the residents while placing an undue burden on county taxpayers.

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Currently, if residents do not pay their garbage bill to Waste Management, the account is turned over to the county to pay, while trash service continues to be provided.

The county is then left to try and collect what is owed but does not have many options to hold homeowners or renters responsible for the bill.

In the past, the county attempted to collect unpaid garbage fees when a person’s tag came up for renewal. But, a system that allowed for exceptions to be made and grace to be offered simply left the county holding the bill.

So today, the county reports more than $1.3 million in outstanding garbage fees remain on the books — classified between active accounts — those still receiving garbage service — and those that are inactive accounts.

In the contract with Waste Management, the county must bear the burden when residents fail to pay. It is an item routinely negotiated and accepted, but it is unfair to those customers who do pay.

If offering customers another method to pay their bill cuts down on the number of those skipping out on the check, then it is a system that surely needs to be adopted.

The county must also look at ways of growing teeth on their collection efforts of the hundreds of thousands left unpaid. Whatever steps need to be taken should be taken.