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Gwinnett Residents Could See Hike in Cost of Trash Collection

County warns outcome of court case could result in increased costs for county residents.

By Sharon Swanepoel

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. At issue is the fact sanitation fees are collected on tax bills, something Mesteller claims is illegal and unconstitutional.

Should the county bill sanitation fees on property tax bills? Are you glad the county now provides trash service or did you prefer being able to choose your own provider? Let us know in the comments.

The outcome of Mesteller’s appeal won’t be known 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 favorable 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.

Sheila A. November 17, 2012 at 01:09 PM
R, Of course while we are at it, I could also put up a solar panel to power my street light and I could haul off my own garbage or burn it in a pit at the back of my property like most do in the country. I have lived in a rural setting for at least a part of my life and just because I can kill and dress a chicken, doesn't necessarily follow that I would do that rather than buy chicken killed, dressed and in the meat section of the local grocery store. I am very sure that the chicken I would buy, let grow, give me eggs and finally kill would be many percentages cheaper than the one I pay for by the pound from the store. So what? That is a choice I make. Raising my own food would be a way of life IF I chose to not have a career, live close to my job and let others take over some of the services that come with living on the fringe between farm and city life. If you don't like the government in Gwinnett, move. I don't like a lot they have done.... the stupid stadium that can't even pay for itself, trying to privatize a local airport, paying pompous officials while cutting police and fire services... the list is endless. Problem is, if you pick any one thing and rant and rave at it while accusing me of "condo mentality", then that is your right. It is also my right to like having one trash collector and on that I have not changed my mind. We all have choices and this one is fine with me. Trash pickup is an issue that is in my rear view mirror, as is this discussion.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 17, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I see that you didn’t reply concerning the road construction standards, so the next new subdivision occupants would not face the same fate. After all, taxpayers will rebuild them too after they are “signed over” in the future to the county, just like storm water piping now. But maybe they will live longer with the reduced trash truck traffic total, even if those reduced truck numbers carry the SAME total tonnage each week as before the new plan. Your response entails and details CHOICES, personal choice and the fact is that in the Trash matter CHOICE has been stripped for no other reason than the GOVERNMENT really wanted future revenue streams. You seem to have acknowledged the error in the way the service was delivered which was by a CIVIL settlement that bypassed all county procurement processes in place at the time the adventure began. The same agreement that by which the GOVERNMENT once again now collects funds MORE than it NEEDS to operate said project which has been CLEARLY proven by the ability our BoC has demonstrated that resulted in reductions for a few by INCREASING expenses EVEN HIGHER on a LOT more. Who knows, if the BoC can up the rates high enough - the STADUIM may survive or even be REPLACED what joy at the prospect… cont
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 18, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Cont The issue is really far greater than just trash collection; it’s about fellow citizens who got hurt bad financially when they dealt with the county, by its OWN standards in good business faith. For residents it’s about some that can afford to “pay a lot more for less” forcing others who may not be so flush in cash deciding to pay the bill or buy essentials. That 200 - 300 as a lump up front can screw up cash flow needed in tight times for food and meds. It remains to be seen if the county will exercise the legal right it now has to begin foreclosure on thousands who haven’t paid, that starts THIS year… The sad fact is, should the claim of this “right” to apply an extension of “Core Government Service” function doctrine remain intact outside of the original intent of addressing EMS services, we could end up with a sole bidder like Propeller Group and its vaporware RFP back here taking what little cash Briscoe can generate and sticking us taxpayers with the bill on its exit due to “failure to launch”. Remember the county ALREADY operates the airport now – is it the NEXT “Core Government” no bid opportunity? They tried publicly 3 times now will the 4th time be by fiat or government declaration? That’s one of the “core” reasons I support the effort that Mr. Mesteller is making here in taking out the trash. If it’s painful enough, our leaders may think twice and be encouraged to make SOUND fiscal decisions going forward.
Mr. B November 18, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I live 100 yards from the Hall County line. 100 yards to freedom to make my own choice rather than be forced into government control over my trash.
Pamela November 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Sheila, I totally understand the wish for and even need for convenience in our lives when we have a career, family, home and other responsibilities. I believe what everyone here is trying to say (and I KNOW they will correct me if I'm wrong) is that we want the freedom to CHOOSE what we want as individuals without having to be told what we're going to do and how much we're going to pay for it. Now that so much has been taken away, are we going to continue to let them keep what they've got and get even more? Or, what can we do to take it back... ?

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