Sunday, December 05, 2010

December 5, 2010 How's That City of Morristown Garbage Fee Working Out For City Residents?

We're going on 4 months now, and the City of Morristown continues to bill its new $10/month garbage fee to some city residents but not to others.

Failure to bill is no problem if you are one of the unbilled city residents.

Failure to bill is very unfair, however, if you are getting a bill and paying for a city service (garbage pick-up) while the City has not sent a single bill to other city residents.

Graciously, the City has said that it doesn't intend to go back and bill the "unbilled" for the four months (as of now) of free garbage service. That's certainly fair to the unbilled. 

But what's fair to those who have been paying for four months already?  The City needs to stop billing the City residents who have already been billed for four months of garbage pick-up until all city residents have been billed an equal number of months. That's fair and equitable to ALL city residents.

The whole garbage fee and garbage billing fiasco are classic examples of government mismanagement at its best. City leaders should have taken care of the financial mess they created without inventing a new way to take money out of  the wallets of the already suffering citizenry. But that's not the way things operate in the City "Taj Mahal" Center or in most any government building.

Instead of being accountable and trying to save money,  Mayor Barile and company just increased property taxes, increased sales taxes through a "pick-your-poison" sales tax referendum, put in red light cameras, illegally transferred/loaned money from one fund to the other, and then tacked on a garbage fee for a city service that had always been provided through tax payments until new City Administrator Tony Cox arrived.

Bobby Moore, who writes press releases in the "news"paper for the City of Morrist, oops, who writes "news" for the Citizen Tribune, recently ran a second article on December 2, 2010, trying to explain the City's failure to bill some city residents (those city residents who receive water from Alpha-Talbott, Witt, and Russellville-Whitesburg Utility Districts) while going on and billing others (those city residents who receive water from MUS).

In his most recent opus, Bobby explains that the City has now (November 29) sent garbage fee billing lists to the three surrounding utility districts and has asked the utilities to include Morristown's garbage fee on the utility's water bills. 

Bobby adds that the utility districts "could begin collecting Morristown's...$10/month garbage fee at the end of December."  Actually, it's the billings that "could" go out in December (or not) but the collection of any money by the utility districts can't take place until January 2011 at the earliest. And even that is not a sure thing.

When Bobby Moore was doing his first CMA (Cover Morristown's rear-end) article on November 18, he reported that the failure to bill all city residents stemmed from "billing difficulties" with the Utility Districts. For some reason, Bobby failed to explain then that actually the City hadn't even sent a billing list to the Utility Districts. 

I guess you could term not providing a list of city residents to the utility districts and not authorizing them to include Morristown garbage bills on the utility's water bills a "billing difficulty," but those certainly aren't billing difficulties created by the districts.

On November 24, I pointed out that the "billing difficulties" with the utility districts were that the City had not authorized the utility districts to bill the fee. Click here.  Now Bobby reports pretty much the same thing and adds that the City has finally given each utility a list of garbage fee customers and has asked/authorized the utility districts to send out garbage bills. 

Now that the City has given the Utility Districts a billing list and the go-ahead to bill, other problems have come out.  At least one utility, RV-WB, doesn't have software with the capability of handling yet another billing task for the City of Morristown. [RV-WB already bills its customers for RV-WB water and includes Morristown sewer and Morristown stormwater charges on the bills that go to Morristown residents.]

The RV-WB utility board will meet toward the end of December and vote on Morristown's request that RV-WB include yet another Morristown fee on RV-WB water bills. 

Since most customers look at their water bill as a lump sum, adding the $10/month Morristown garbage fee to RV-WB water bills may inadvertently create ill-will toward RV-WB, the billing agent, instead of ill-will toward the real culprit, the City of Morristown.

Watch for that RV-WB vote. Morristown power players will be applying behind-the-scenes pressure on RV-WB to go on and handle the Morristown garbage billings and not rock the boat.   We'll see if TPTB can apply enough pressure to get another utility to take flak for Morristown's financial failings and continued lack of accountability.

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