MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Dozens of people left Wednesday night’s commission meeting outraged after the vote failed that would’ve kept garbage fees paid quarterly through out the year.
After a long debate and testimonies from Macon-Bibb residents saying they can’t afford it, lump sum garbage payments will go into effect. The new annual rate will be paid at the beginning of every year and many say it’s just plain ‘unfair’.
“Before me people walked out, they were just storming out of there. They were very, very, angry,” said President of the Bibb Tax Payer Alliance Martin Bell.
That anger came Tuesday night after commissioners held the vote to override Mayor Reichert’s veto of a garbage fee ordinance.
“We adopted a proposal earlier this year to put the solid waste fee of $240 on the property tax bill,” said Commissioner Gary Bechtel.
Residents like Bell were appalled by the decision of commissioners who voted ‘no’.
“For the Mayor to act like this and Gary Bechtel just you know against the people and citizens, so many people are on fixed incomes and can’t pay this,” he said.
Commissioners voting ‘yes’ to overturn Mayor Reichert’s decision needed 6 votes to do it but were one shy. Commissioner Gary Bechtel was one of those three who voted no and he says he believes the ordinance is the best way to make up money lost in unpaid garbage fees.
“We suffer on collections here probably 20% of what we bill we do not collect,” Bechtel said.
But Bell says making residents who pay their garbage bill suffer the cost of those who don’t isn’t the answer.
“If people aren’t going after their garbage bill you go after them, not the rest of the citizens of Bibb County. Why are they punishing the rest of us for some people who haven’t paid?” he asked.
Bechtel ended by saying this plan will benefit the average homeowner, but for Bell and others this is only the beginning of the fight.
Commissioner Bechtel also says he hopes the garbage ordinance will halt any increases in the future fees for garbage services. This ordinance wouldn’t increase the fee, just require residents to pay upfront each year.
As far as people who can’t afford to pay the fees, Bechtel says they can apply for a waiver and possibly be exempt from paying.