Garbage collection free ride comes to an end

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of residents in the annexed area of Bay St. Louis have been enjoying free garbage collection service. But that no-cost pick-up is about to come to an end, thanks to a new computer program.

"We located 360 structures that do not have active garbage accounts," said Bay St. Louis Administrative Assistant Jerry Beaugez.

That equates to about $39,000 a year in un-collected garbage fees. Beaugez is determining who's not paying through a computer program provided to the city by the county's tax assessor's office.

"Working on an GIS overlay, showing where structures are in wards 5 and 6, verses where garbage accounts are," explained Beaugez.

Where the disconnect comes into the picture is anyone's guess.

"I think it's a lot of reasons," explained Bay St. Louis City Clerk David Kolf. "Going back to Katrina where there have been a lot of new houses built in that area. You've got a situation where the sewer and water is provided by one entity, the city is a second entity, and the county still maintains the billing for the garbage services. So you've got a disconnect between those three entities. They may not be aware that the billing is done by two different entities. So I can't say that anybody is maliciously not paying their bill; they just might not be aware of it."

Once all of the properties have been identified, letters will go out to the homeowners. Kolf said that should happen within the next few weeks.

"We should see that hole get plugged rather quickly," said Kolf.

City leaders say the new program has saved the city thousands of dollars in time, money and manpower. Identifying non-payers before the computer program was made available would have meant city workers traveling each road and manually gathering the information.

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