Garbage bill case on hold pending state ruling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Whether or not a local resident owes Adams&160;County more than $700 in past due garbage bills is still pending before the Adams County Court. Sammy Corley, 894 Liberty Road, is appealing a ruling by Adams County Justice Court requiring him to pay the bill plus court and attorney’s fees.

&uot;If I don’t use (the service), I don’t think I should have to pay it,&uot; Corley said last week.

During court Wednesday, Adams&160;County Judge John Hudson ruled to put Corley’s case on hold pending the outcome of a similar case before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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Corley claims he never knew that the Adams County Board of Supervisors increased the cost of its monthly garbage service.

&uot;Mr. Corley says when the fees went up to $9 he did not get notified,&uot; said Dave Sanders, an attorney for the Adams County Board of Supervisors. Under the law, the county must notify residents of any increase, he said.

And because of the lack of notice and legal issues, such as an exemption option for residents and the definitions of garbage service and garbage generation, Corley should not have to pay for the service, said his attorney, Kevin Colbert. &uot;The county has absolutely no common law to assess garbage fees and collect garbage fees against this man,&uot;&160;Colbert said.

The court also granted Wednesday’s continuance so the attorneys will have time to look into these issues, Hudson said.

Adams County charges residents $9 a month for garbage service whether or not they place items out for biweekly pickup or not.

Corley believes that since he either burns, recycles or puts trash in a gully on his property he does not need the service so should not have to pay. He and Albert J. Ott Jr., operations manager for Waste Management, both testified at Wednesday’s hearing. &uot;I’ve been putting certain things in (the gully) for 21 years — since I’ve been living there,&uot;&160;Corley said. He argues state law permits this as long as it is non-toxic items.

During the hearing, no one disputed the type of garbage service Adams&160;County provided.

&uot;Our truck travels down Liberty Road and we do pick up on Liberty Road where (Corley’s residence) is located,&uot; Ott said.

But Corley believes state law says the county may give residents an option not to use its garbage service. &uot;The issue is if you can exempt me from paying this fee from this service, why aren’t you doing it?&uot; Colbert said.

Lawyers on both sides said the board of supervisors did not know if the board of supervisors had must also have issued an order stating its position on the exemption, and no one Wednesday was sure if board had done that.

Corley’s case has similarities to a case the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on last year.

The Supreme Court ruled in October 1999 that two defendants in Oktibbeha County had to pay their overdue garbage bills. The ruling has been published by the court but is still in a revision stage.

&uot;What I’m obviously going to do is wait for the case to (become) law or be withdrawn,&uot; Hudson said.