County is bound by law regarding garbage

By RHUEL DICKINSON,

State Law requires the Board of Supervisors to provide household garbage pickup and disposal for all occupied households in the county outside of municipalities.  This can be paid for in three ways:  1. A tax levy on all taxable property in the County, 2.  A fee charged per household, or 3. A combination of a tax and a fee.  Many years ago, the Simpson County Board of Supervisors chose to charge a fee per household because they felt that this was the fairest way to charge for garbage pickup and disposal so that the actual generators of the garbage would pay for it.  By law, the property owners and the occupants of households are jointly and severally liable for the fee.  That means that both or either party is equally liable for the solid waste fee.  Solid waste accounts are established based on building permits, E911 addresses, property tax registrations and other information.  The County Solid Waste office should be notified (601-847-1418) when an address is not occupied.  It is simply not possible or desirable for us to monitor every citizen’s residence status.   When a garbage bill becomes delinquent, after 90 days, a $3.00 late fee is added to the account and the delinquent fee becomes a lien on the property.  The garbage fees and late fees continue to add to the account every 3 months until it is paid.  If a property owner can provide evidence that the property was unoccupied during a period of time, the County can credit the garbage account for that time, but only if we have definitive proof.  While we may believe a citizen’s story about a residence, we have to have proof to answer to the State Auditor’s Office.  Once a debt is owed to the county, we can only reduce it if we have proof it was not owed.  Since the lien runs with the land, it passes from one land owner to another when ownership is transferred.  An individual County Supervisor or even the entire Board of Supervisors cannot reduce a debt owed to the County unless it can be proved that it is not a valid debt. 

When purchasing land, it is always advisable to have a good attorney perform a full title search of the property.  If an attorney does not agree to check for the outstanding solid waste liens, call the Solid Waste Office at 601-847-1418 to check the address for solid waste liens before purchasing land.  Land that has been transacted through a tax sale frequently has either physical or legal problems or both.  Individuals and companies who participate in county and city tax sales are mostly interested in the high rate of interest, up to 18% per year, they can earn when the original land owner redeems his or her property from the tax sale.  When property is not redeemed by the original owners and the tax sale purchasers actually end up with the tax title to tax sale land, they frequently try to unload it as quickly as possible to make a profit or at least get their investment money back.  This is especially true when the tax sale purchaser discovers that a garbage lien or other significant problems exist on the tax sale property.  It always pays to do your homework before buying land to avoid expensive liabilities.  My Grandmother taught me as a child to “look before you leap.”  This old adage is especially true for land purchases and even more critical for tax sale properties.

If you have a question about county government, please contact me at 601-847-1418 or email rhuel@co.simpson.ms.us.  Rhuel Dickinson, Simpson County Administrator.