Unpaid garbage, sewer fees pile up in North Apollo
North Apollo is looking for ways to reduce delinquent garbage and sewer recovery fees that have soared to $200,000.
“We’ve got to do something. It’s totally out of hand,” Councilman Bill Campbell said.
Campbell and other council members discussed the problem that has been years in the making at a recent meeting.
North Apollo residents are supposed to pay a quarterly sewer recovery fee of $48 per household and a garbage fee of $35.75, plus an annual fire protection fee of $50.
Revoking services is not an option. The borough doesn’t want to stop garbage pickup because of potential public health issues.
Some cases have been taken to the magistrate, allowing the borough to recover some of the unpaid fees slowly, Campbell said.
But, Campbell said, “Some people make one payment, and they stop.”
Rick Vilello, deputy secretary for Pennsylvania’s Office of Community Affairs and Development, said it’s not uncommon for municipalities to struggle with residents who don’t pay their bills for local government services.
“The places that are more aggressive are more successful at collecting,” he said. “Once you get so far in arrears, it makes it harder and harder to collect.”
Besides taking residents to a local magistrate to recoup unpaid fees, municipalities should craft ordinances to outline penalties for nonpayment, he said.
Local governments can lien the property of residents who don’t pay such fees and go after their assets, including those of landlords, Vilello said.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, email@example.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.