Bay St. Louis garbage bills a concern in annexed wards

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Some Bay St. Louis city leaders say a closer look should be taken into how data is being gathered to determine what property owners are paying for garbage collection services and which are not.

As we first told you last week, the city recently identified more than 350 structures in its annexed areas that did not have garbage accounts attached to them. As WLOX News found out, the city is a long way off from contacting possible violators.

This list of addresses that city leaders say don't have garbage accounts attached to them, is at the center of a new controversy.

"That's why we really haven't circulated the list. We've kept it close to our vest, so we can check on it," said City Councilman Joey Boudin.

Boudin represents Ward Five on the city council. His ward is one of the two new wards annexed into Bay St. Louis, where more than 350 properties have been tagged for not having a garbage account.

Those properties were discovered by a new computer program provided to the city by the county tax assessor's office.

"Every property on that list is going to have its own story, and that's what we've got to go out and find, said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.

"A lot of the properties are not occupied, so they're going to fall off the list. A lot of them are already paying a bill. They're going to fall off the list."

"I know some of the people that live close to me have been paying directly to the city for decades, so those names will come off. I contacted one young couple in their late 20s, first home buyers, didn't know they have to pay the city for garbage through the county," Boudin said.

City leaders say that could be part of the problem. Garbage bills in the annexed areas are paid to the tax assessor's office, and that might be confusing some residents.

"We have allowed that billing to stay with Jimmy Ladner at the county level because he was billing those accounts prior to annexation and it's worked well," Fillingame said. We're in the process right now of re-determining which households are active possibly slipped through the cracks. One thing we're trying to do is get the word out, let people know if you are using the garbage collection service you need to go down to Jimmy Ladner's office an open an account."

City leaders say the aerial satellite photographs they are using to help identify the properties will have to be physically checked.

They say there is no real way to determine whether workers are looking at an abandoned house, a shed or a commercial structure that has a commercial garbage account.