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Lawsuit Win Could Increase Trash Pickup Cost

Gwinnett trash collection back in courts and at State Capitol. County warns outcome of either could result in increased costs for county residents.

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments by attorneys for who is taking on Gwinnett County about its way of collecting payment on sanitation services. The issue is that the money is collected on tax bills, something Mesteller claims is illegal and unconstitutional.

The outcome of Mesteller’s appeal won’t be heard for several weeks. However, even if it fails, state Rep. Brett Harrell, whose district includes Snellville and parts of Loganville and Grayson, is also taking on the issue. He is re-introducing legislation in January to prevent municipalities using tax bills to collect anything other than taxes. Harrell said his reason for re-introducing House Bill 291 is not opposition to any particular program, just with the billing mechanism.

“In Georgia, we have non-judicial foreclosure; so, the lien is placed on your home and you are not even afforded an opportunity to stand before a judge and plead your case - again for non-taxes,” Harrell said, adding he had 60 co-signers to the bill when originally introduced. He acknowledges that he does face opposition. “The associations of Counties and Cities representing corporate government rather than the citizens of those counties and cities are the primary opponents at the capitol. Around the state, the opponents are those elected and staff members that are more concerned with revenue to the corporate government rather than protecting those they serve.”

Gwinnett County officials, however, say that if either Mesteller’s lawsuit or Harrell’s legislation is successful, the outcome might not be so good for county taxpayers. Joe Sorenson, communications director for Gwinnett County, warns that if the county were unable to bill for solid waste and recovery services via the property tax billing system, it would have to create a new billing system or significantly modify an existing one.

“Either option would increase costs,” Sorenson said. “Additionally, the payment rate for property taxes is about 99 percent. Other billing payment rates are significantly lower and the costs associated with non-payment would become a liability for the remainder of the customers. Just as the case with any business, the cost of uncollectible bills has to be included in the cost of operation and the rate structure."

Sorenson said it was unfortunate, but those who plan their bills faithfully wind up paying for those who do not.

"The higher the rate of non-payment, the greater the burden on those who pay,” Sorenson said.

Annette Rogers November 13, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Duluth trash bags (Purple "Barney" Bags) took a little getting used to, but service has been consistently satisfactory for the 13+ years I've lived in Duluth City limits. My retired neighbors and those that carefully recycle only need 1 bag every few weeks. We've had the same people collecting for years and they are nice, familiar with the neighborhood, efficient, and friendly. Thanks!
DavidE November 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM
The Duluth trash service is the best bang for your buck. You do complain about paying for bags the first few times, then you realize it is very cost effective.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 15, 2012 at 03:53 AM
And for those who chose to live within city limits ... more power to you. The problem lies with those who made conscious choices NOT to live within city limits, because they DIDN'T want to pay the "collective expense" and subsidies of others. This county plan ruffled more than a few feathers in the community because of all the money spent on outside consultants ( At least 2 sets if not 3 or 4) whose recommendations after holding workshops were not followed. The complete lack of responsible public bidding that was PROMISED but SO fouled up even a judge stepped in to say STOP and THINK. So the taxpayers paid EVEN more for BoC members to creatively produce a single thread argument, that if withheld by the court, will allow the BoC to exempt any FUTURE trash providers from ever participating in a public bidding process to explain the fees they charge us. We call it welcome to little Clayton... On the plus side, the excess cash-flow created should produce some jobs or retirement income to the officials and the families who voted for it. That is as soon as they all attend to the little legal messes... Oh we the citizens are paying EXTRA to prevent those actions by the decree too. Core government service... When you absolutely, positively need a revenue stream overnight that you as an elected official don't EVER want or HAVE to explain. Bonus points if can produce rebates to certain voting blocs during election cycles that other CITIZENS pay for.

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