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Delinquencies may yield garnishments, liens

March 2, 2013

When a $10 a month garbage bill reaches a whopping $2,000 it’s probably safe to say there’s a problem.
And that particular problem was discussed Thursday by the Clay County Board of Supervisors and Clay County Tax Assessor/Collector Paige Lamkin, who requested further action be taken to collect delinquent garbage fees.
Each month Clay County residential property owners receive a $10 garbage bill from the Clay County Solid Waste, and once a person owes $40 the account is taken over by the Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office, which will not issue that person a car tag until the past due bill is paid.
Lamkin said most delinquent accounts in the county are inactive, meaning no one currently resides in the home where the delinquent fee was assessed to. But one particular account is still active and has been building and building, now sitting at a fee of $2,000. Since there is no vehicle tag registered in the name of the resident who lives there it is no way for the Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office to retrieve that money alone.
Lamkin discussed with the board the possibility of putting a lien on the property or taking civil action to collect the money owed to the county.
Clay County Chancery Clerk Amy Berry said usually when garbage accounts become delinquent the resident in delinquency will have a hearing at Clay County Justice Court to determine why they aren’t making payments. Based upon findings from the hearing, the resident’s pay could be garnished.
“If there’s nothing there to garnish statutory authority is then directed to put a lien against the property owner,” Berry said.
The only legal ramification the county has is to impose a property lien, which would in turn affect the property owner’s credit rating, she said.
A hearing regarding the $2,000 delinquent account has already been held, but efforts to pay are still not being met. Lamkin requested a board order for the Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office and the Solid Waste Authority to move forward with collections.
The Board of Supervisors will revisit the topic this Monday during the first regular meeting of March.
Since Clay County teamed up with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District in 2010 the number of delinquent garbage accounts in Clay County has decreased, and there is now more than $200,000 in the county’s sanitation fund.

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