One of Leflore County’s biggest garbage fee scofflaws came before the Board of Supervisors Monday to ask that she be allowed to obtain license plate tags for her car as she begins to pay down the $2,150 she owes the county.
Janie Jones, 305 Stevenson Trail Court, Itta Bena, is No. 19 on a list of nearly 2,500 county residents who owe at least $200 in garbage fees. She’s among the 24 residents who owe more than $2,000 in unpaid fees. For Jones, that amounts to more than 21 years of unpaid bills, piling up at a rate of $8.50 per month, or $10 per month since late charges have been included.
Jones admitted to supervisors that she’s lived in a trailer at that address for 25 years and never paid a garbage bill. But Jones also claims the bills were being sent to her ex-boyfriend’s mother who not only didn’t pay the bill but passed them onto Jones as revenge after Jones split with the boyfriend more than two years ago.
Jones also claims the county never issued her a garbage cart, and so for the past 25 years she has carried her trash across town to dump it in her grandma’s garbage cart on Lamar Street.
“I never thought it was getting paid for (by someone else),” she said outside the meeting. “But I never had a garbage can. I’ve got to go to my grandma’s with the garbage.”
District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham told Jones when the county initiated house-to-house garbage collection, every residence was required to sign up.
Jones’ outstanding bill became an issue when she was denied renewal tags for her car by the Tax Collector’s Office. She told the supervisors that she needs to be able to drive to doctor’s appointments in Jackson and Memphis to treat her diabetes.
Jones said she would pay the county $75 per month until the $2,150 debt is settled if she could get the tags for her car. The bills would continue to mount at a rate of $10 per month, meaning, if she paid regularly, the bill could be paid off by November 2021.
Abraham suggested the county work out a payment plan with Jones and allow her to get her tags in the meantime. Board Attorney Joyce Chiles said the supervisors could agree to a pay-off plan with Jones but couldn’t give her the tags before the bill was paid in full.
Abraham said the county should work with scofflaws to get the money off the books and asked that Chiles re-examine the law to determine if the tags could be provided in the meantime.
Jones will revisit the board next Monday to learn the outcome of her appeal.
In another matter before the board Monday, supervisors told Regina Harper to stop construction being done on her property along County Road 138 as the board and building inspector try to determine whether she can legally turn three storage sheds into a residence.
Harper had received notice in February from Victor Stokes, county building inspector, that she was in violation of the county building code and zoning ordinance. She was ordered to stop what Stokes said was “the unlawful construction of a building” on her property. Stokes claimed the work was being done without permits.
Explaining that Stokes had been called away at the last minute for a meeting, Tax Assessor Leroy Ware said Harper had been given a permit to place a storage building on her property. After being told Harper was selling flea market items out of the storage building, she was served with a cease-and-desist order because the area was not zoned for commercial purposes.
Since then, Harper has hired a contractor and done work herself to convert the sheds into a residence. She said they already had been connected to water and sewer service and had electrical power. She also claims she was given a 911 address by the fire department.
Ware said Stokes has investigated construction of the storage buildings and learned they are not built to the same standards as residential buildings. He wants them removed, Ware said.
Harper said the permit she obtained from the county allowed her to convert the storage buildings to residences. She said she has lived in the storage buildings from time to time, as has her mother. She claims she informed the county from the beginning that she intended to turn the storage buildings into a residence. She also claims the county allows other people to live in such buildings along Grenada Boulevard.
“I checked before I proceeded with anything,” Harper said.
A neighbor, Bridgette Brister, whose house is adjacent to Harper’s property, said she had taken pictures of Harper operating a flea market from the sheds and turned them over to the county. When Harper started converting the sheds into a residence, Brister said she called the building inspector.
“It’s lowering the property value of my home with these three storage buildings there,” she said.
The women were directed to return to the Board of Supervisors next Monday, when Stokes should be there to argue his point.
• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.