Trash amendment on November ballot

Published: Aug. 13, 2016 at 2:40 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2016 at 3:06 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Paying to have your trash picked up is your responsibility.  That's the message behind a Jefferson County amendment on the November ballot.  

State representative Allen Farley of McCalla, who sponsored the original legislation, says this all started when a property owner in Fairfield complained that he had people move out without paying their trash fees.

The owner said it was unfair for the city to expect him as a landlord to foot the bill.  He claims trash collection dues should be treated like utilities.  

"The tenants sign up for tv, and sign up for water, and sign up for electricity.  And of course if they don't pay it, they shut it off," said Archie Phillips, the landlord who contacted Farley.

Fairfield has been cracking down on people not paying trash dues lately, however this legislation was initiated before that time.

Phillips said he's been stuck with several tenants bills who moved out and didn't pay.  If owners can't pay, he said the city places a lean on the property.

"The tenant might have been moved out ten years ago.  So it just backs up to $1000, $1500," said Phillips.

"I've got one tenant who owed me $1200 in garbage and she just moves off and now it's on my property.  I can't collect it.  And they say well the landlord has got to pay it.  So i'm stuck with it," said Phillips' son Bubba, who also rents out various properties.

However, city officials contend trash fees are still ultimately the owners' responsibility.  

Both mayor Kenneth Coachman and council president Darnell Gardner said they couldn't speak for other Jefferson County municipalities also affected by the amendment, but as far as Fairfield is concerned they don't think it's a good idea.

Gardner said he owns some rental properties and has run into this situation.  He suggests landlords make tenants pay trash dues as part of the monthly rent.

Alabamians head to the polls on November 8th. Jefferson County residents who live in cities who don't charge for trash pickup are not affected by the amendment.

Amendment on Ballot -"Relating  to  Jefferson  County,  proposing  an  amendment  to  the  Constitution  of  Alabama  of  1901, to  specify  that  a  tenant  or  tenants  who  receives residential  garbage  service  from  the  county, a municipality, or a local governmental  entity shall  be  solely  responsible  for  the  garbage  bill."

Read the original bill here.

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