CATEGORY: SUP Lee Board of SupervisorsMOULDE

HED:County eyes plan to bill landlords for garbage

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Lee County supervisors are studying a proposal to change the way the county collects garbage fees from multi-unit rental properties.

The new plan would basically make owners rather than tenants responsible for paying solid waste collection fees.

County Administrator Ronnie Bell said the county is picking up garbage at about 1,000 rental units, but is being paid for the service at only 41 percent of them.

Under current procedures, the renters are billed for the $7.50 monthly fee. However, in many cases renters come and go without notifying the county's solid waste department, leaving doubt about who is responsible for the bills.

But now if renters don't pay, owners don't escape the consequences, Bell noted. The law provides that the county can bind properties where garbage bills are delinquent, hindering an owner's ability to sell the premises or borrow against it until fees and penalties are paid.

"He (the owner) runs the risk of there being a lien placed against the property," Bell said.

"There's some advantages to us (in the new plan) ... and some to the owners," he said.

The plan calls for the property owner to be billed for 90 percent of garbage-collection fees attributed to his rental units. That should assure more consistent collections by letting the county bill a single individual or company for multiple units, Bell said.

Owners would conceivably pass the cost on to tenants while at the same time saving 10 percent of the overall fee and assuring that their properties remained free of liens.

The county should make up much of the 10 percent discount through a reduction in the number of bills that had to be processed and mailed each month, Bell said.

If supervisors decide to adopt the plan, they would have to decide whether it would be optional or mandatory.

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