Whitesburg KY

Amnesty offered to all late-paying trash customers

Letcher County citizens with delinquent sanitation bills will be given an opportunity to pay them and receive an amnesty on interest and penalties if they do so within 30 days of being notified.

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted unanimously in a special meeting last week to adopt Judge/Executive Jim Ward’s plan to offer the amnesty if sanitation delinquents will come forward and take care of their obligation.

Under the terms of the amnesty, anyone with delinquent sanitation bills will have 30 days from the date of notification to either pay their bill in full, minus interest and penalty fees, or make arrangements to make payments on a regular basis. If they fail to either pay the delinquent bill or make proper arrangements, the county will prosecute them in court to recover the full amount owed, including all penalties and interest. Ward said it would be a bargain for delinquent customers to come forward and take care of their obligation as soon as possible to avoid the interest rates and fees.

The court also voted to begin attaching sanitation bills to the sanitation bills of property owners in the case of landlords with renters. Ward said 75 to 80 percent of delinquents are renters and the situation must be remedied. District Two Magistrate Archie Banks, who said he owns several rental properties, told the court that would be the best way to make certain the sanitation fees are paid. He said landlords can just add the amount to the rental fee of the property.

The court also discussed other ways to make the Sanitation Department more productive and cost effective. Ward said it is important for the county to know that people who receive sanitation services are being properly billed for the service. He said that most of those who are not currently being billed are renters, but that some people won’t pay no matter what. District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming said it is wrong to make some people pay while others are allowed to get off without paying.

Ward said he has instructed Litter Warden Darrell Banks and his assistant, Gale Dean Campbell, to begin canvassing the county to find people who currently are not being billed. Ward said while the county really has no way to make them pay back bills if they haven’t been previously billed, he wants to make certain they pay in the future. He suggested another amnesty to get other delinquents current in their sanitation bills as well.

Banks said it is absolutely critical that sanitation customers curb their garbage – that is, to place it beside the county or state road at the end of their driveway. Banks said having to go into people’s yards to collect garage is one of the main reasons it takes so long to collect garbage. He said that only in cases when someone is physically unable to bring the garbage to the curb will sanitation workers go beyond the state or county road to collect garbage. However, litter and illegal dumping will be vigorously enforced in case people just decide to throw trash out instead of curbing it.

Banks also said garbage must be placed outside fences. He said it causes a lot of problems and creates liability situations for both the county and property owners if sanitation workers have to come inside fences to collect garbage. Banks said the law will be enforced and that delinquents will be prosecuted.

“We have people out hunting for garbage now,” said Banks. “Take it to the state or county road that connects to your driveway. If you break the law by not letting us pick up your garbage, we can cite you.”

The prospect of raising sanitation fees was also a topic of discussion. The general consensus is that fees will have to be raised from the current price of $12 per month to between $15 and $18 per month. Third District Magistrate Codell Gibson presented the court with a study he conducted showing that if all the people in the county who are currently not paying for sanitation service will pay, the fee would just need to be raised to $15 and still leave over $40,000 surplus for maintenance and other costs.

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