After months of talking about but not doing anything about garbage fee scofflaws who owe the county more than $1.3 million, the Leflore County Board of Supervisors decided Monday to move toward a system that will allow the county to get paid.
Right now, more than two-thirds of all county residents owe at least $200 in garbage fees, with some owing more than $2,000. At only $8.50 per month, some residents haven’t paid their bills in more than 20 years.
Board President Wayne Self brought the matter before the board with the story of a woman faced with an outstanding bill her brother hadn’t paid for more than 18 years, racking up more than $1,900 in fees and late charges.
The woman, whom Self identified as Miss Lewis, moved into the home of her brother, George Jones, at 516 Rising Sun Circle, in 2016 to care for him. When he died the following year, she decided to stay in the home but doesn’t think she should have to pay the bills owed by her brother.
“She’s willing to take care of the three years that she’s been here, but she just can’t get her license tags,” Self said. “But the bills that were in her brother’s name, she wants to know what she can do about getting it paid.”
Although Self said he thought another person can’t be responsible for a dead man’s bill, Board Attorney Joyce Chiles said the county would have to check with the brother’s estate to see if there are assets available to cover the money owed. If the county doesn’t do that, it would be like giving a donation to the brother’s estate, she said, “which is something this Board of Supervisors and the county cannot do,”
“I don’t think we should make her pay for something when she wasn’t here,” Self said. “This bill goes back to 1997. This lady moved here from Florida in 2016.”
The discussion prompted District 2 Supervisor Reginald Moore to admit: “Two garbage bills come to my house, one for me and one for the lady who had previously lived there.”
“I don’t believe I would have told that,” said District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham.
Moore said he wasn’t notified when he moved into the home that back garbage fees were owed to the county, which others have speculated was the case in many of the long-term scofflaws.
“There is a flaw in our system,” Chiles said. She reminded the supervisors that Mississippi statutes put the responsibility on the board to find the problem and fix it. She pointed to the example of a woman who hadn’t paid in 24 years but was able to buy her car tags until 2019.
District 5 Supervisor Robert Collins said the board had to come up with a system that will allow it to collect money in the future, whether putting the cost of garbage collection on the property tax bills, as is done in Carroll and other counties, or to go door-to-door, canvassing the areas and matching names to those on the garbage bills.
The board instructed Chiles to investigate the root causes of the delinquent bills, how people are getting around the system, how people who don’t pay are still getting tags, and to report to the board in two weeks with her findings.
The board will then attempt to come up with a system to more easily collect the money in the future as well as collect the $1.3 million currently owed.
In other business:
• The board allowed MedStat to use funds from a traffic ticket grant pool to purchase four IntuBrite video laryngoscopes. The medical devices would be placed in each of the ambulances located in Leflore County and allow for patients to be more easily intubated through use of a camera and small TV screen. The cost is estimated at $8,180.
The board also approved MedStat moving its ambulances into the former Mississippi Highway Patrol building at 702 U.S. 82, where the county emergency management offices are located.
• Supervisors will meet with Dr. Mary Brown, the superintendent of the consolidated Greenwood-Leflore School District, to discuss the condition of school buildings in the county.
Collins said the recent inspection report by a Leflore County grand jury pointed out numerous problems in school buildings with inadequate space, leaking roofs and other deficiencies. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce offices.
• The board will meet Tuesday, April 9, at 10 a.m. with members of the Greenwood City Council and representatives of Butler Snow law firm concerning a feasibility study being done to determine if Greenwood Leflore Hospital would attract companies interested in buying it, leasing it or affiliating with it.
• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or email@example.com.