TYLERTOWN — Walthall County residents may be facing another increase in the garbage collection fee in the near future.
Accountant Charlie Prince of Magee, the county’s budget consultant, said several one-time events, including the sale of two garbage trucks, helped boost the county’ garbage fund from a starting balance of $73,390 to year-end balance on Sept. 30 of $101,859.
However, projecting income and expenditures going forward, Prince said the current year would end with a balance of about $87,000, and the following year would end at about $32,000, with a deficit of about $22,000 after three years.
“You can make it to next year without doing anything, yes,” Prince told supervisors on Nov. 18. “Then, you’ll need to look at an increase.”
Prince said supervisors should keep equipment as new as possible to avoid having to make costly repairs to hydraulic systems on trucks.
The board boosted the garbage fee by $3 in April, retroactive to January, taking the monthly fee from $12 to $15.
Prince said a $1 increase in the garbage fee “will get you where you break even, but you need more than that. You can leave the fee where it is now, or you can raise the fee $1 now and get a head start.”
He noted the costs are likely to continue to increase, and any increases in fuel costs would only exacerbate the problem.
Otherwise, “your expenditures are about as lean as they can be,” he said.
Prince said he based his calculations on 5,000 of the 5,600 garbage accounts being consistently paid.
Julie Ginn, the solid waste billing clerk, said the county may have as much as $1 million of garbage payments in arrears, despite the county’s ability to deny license plates to customers with delinquent garbage fees.
“People just transfer their tags to family members with a clean record,” Ginn said.
She asked if the board would authorize the use of a collection agency to bring in some of the delinquent account fees, saying Pike County uses a collections agent for its solid waste accounts.
“I think we should try everything before we raise the fee again,” Ginn said.
Supervisors said they would consider it, but previous attempts to use a collection agency had not been very successful.