One-third of residents pay $200 garbage fee

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday learned $496,000, or 37 percent of what’s expected, has been collected from residents for the first-time annual $200 garbage fee.

Initially due by Dec. 5, supervisor during their Nov. 26 meeting unanimously agreed to extend the deadline to March 31 after receiving complaints from residents unaware of the fee approved by supervisors in May for the county’s $52 million budget.

“With the change of due date, we noticed the amount of money coming in cut off,” Treasurer David Britt told supervisors. “There is money coming in, but not like it was prior to the change.”

Supervisors in November also agreed to extend the exemption application deadline to Jan. 31 after learning that 250 residents said they weren’t aware of the option. The initial deadline was Sept. 1. As of Friday, 372 had applied.

The exemption is given to a home occupied by residents 65 or older, or who are totally disabled, have a combined annual household income of less than $30,000, and a combined financial worth of less than $80,000. Also exempt is anyone who lives in a trailer park that provides trash service and households occupied by veterans who are exempt from real estate taxes due to a 100 percent military disability.

Drewryville resident Tina Tripoli during Monday’s meeting complained to supervisors about the effort it takes to apply for an exemption.

“I have an elderly father, and he had to send in an affidavit to show his financial worth,” Tripoli said. “The burden it’s putting on the county for a $200 fee from deeds for burial plots to annuities for insurance and all accounts with banks.”

“(Documents) have to be originals and can’t be copies, never mind the privacy that is encountered when he dropped off the paperwork,” she continued.

Tripoli called the process “intolerable.”

“If these elderly people could just show what they make on a yearly basis, the same as the IRS (requests),” she said. “The IRS doesn’t ask what we have in a savings account. They just care about the interest, yet the county, for a $200 fee, is asking for all this information.”

County Administrator Mike Johnson said it’s too early to say how much would be lost in garbage fees due to exemptions from an expected collection of $1.34 million.

The costs for collecting, handling and disposing garbage will equal $1.8 million for fiscal year 2013. This equates to an annual expense of more than $250 per household. The fee will cover 71.6 percent of the cost of managing the county’s garbage. The $534,000 balance will be funded through property taxes.

March 31 will be the garbage fee payment deadline for future years to avoid a conflict with the state-required tax deadline of Dec. 5.