Boykins sues vice mayor for unpaid fees

Published 9:49 am Saturday, June 6, 2009

BOYKINS—The town has taken 12 people, including the vice mayor, to court for failure to pay the municipality’s trash collection fee.

According to files received through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Tidewater News, Linda Beatty and 11 others have not paid the $4.50-per-month fee for the last 21 months.

Each person taken to Southampton County General District Court owes $94.50. Collectively they owe the town $1,134.

“It’s a service fee,” Beatty said from her job in the Southampton County Clerk’s office. “I’m also a citizen and I have a right to an opinion as well. It wasn’t a publicity thing or anything, and I really do not wish to comment further.”

Boykins has been charging a trash collection fee for several years. The town council, at its meeting on July 17, 2007, voted 3-2 to make the fee mandatory. Beatty and Michael Gadsby were the dissenting votes.

Gadsby is not one of the 12 people taken to court by the town for failure to pay the fee and could not be reached for comment.

Town officials declined to comment on the matter because of the pending litigation, but Mayor Spier Edwards did characterize the 12’s refusal to pay the fee as a rebellion against it being mandatory.

Boykins picks up trash and yard waste twice a week. Trash is collected on Mondays and Fridays, while yard waste is picked up on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On May 29, General District Court Judge Warren Parker Councill issued judgments in favor of Boykins in four of the 12 cases brought to the court. The judge ordered the defendants in the four cases to pay the $94.50 they owe, plus an additional 6 percent in interest.

According to court records, six other cases, including Beatty’s, have been continued until June 12. Of those six, Beatty and the defendants in three other cases are continuing to contest the charges against them, but two — according to the town — have agreed to pay their fee before June 12.

The court is still looking to serve two individuals who have not paid the fee.

Edwards said he did not believe the 12’s refusal to pay the fee would affect a proposal to double it for the next fiscal year.

The town plans to raise the fee — from $4.50 to $9.00 per month, or from $50 to $100 per year — as part of its proposed $244,800 budget for fiscal 2010. A public hearing to discuss the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 at the Town Hall.